Campaigners have protested against plans for new homes at Barton Farm
Council chiefs have decided to consult the public over plans to build 8,000 new homes on three greenfield sites in Hampshire.
Winchester City Council made the decision at a meeting on Wednesday.
Under the proposals, 2,000 homes could be built at Barton Farm, north-west of Winchester, 3,000 near Waterlooville and another 3,000 near Whitely.
Barton Farm campaigners want the land protected. The council said all brownfield sites would be used first.
Chris Slattery, from the Save Barton Farm group, said the impact on the area if the 300-acre (120-hectare) site were developed would be "devastating".
"We had hoped Winchester would be protected as a rural hinterland for this agricultural county," she added.
"But we do need affordable housing throughout the county and in rural areas as well so that local people can live in their local villages and their local towns."
In the past the group has accused the council of "taking the easy way out" by choosing to create large developments instead of smaller pockets of housing.
'Target house building'
But the local authority has said it is unable to meet government planning demands without building on greenfield areas, such as the ones proposed.
Winchester City Council leader George Beckett said: "This site has been discussed in Winchester for 15 years [and] has already been allocated as a reserve site.
"We have made provision in the decision taken last night that this site should be developed only after the brownfield sites have all been used up.
"The government require us to make provision for their target house building and if we don't they will impose it on us."