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Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Winchester 10-year housing debate over Barton Farm
Barton Farm land
Cala Homes plans to build 2,000 homes on the edge of Winchester

As the Barton Farm public inquiry gets underway, it brings Winchester's long-running and most controversial housing scheme debate back into the spotlight.

Campaigners fighting to protect the countryside are pitted against a developer insisting homes are sorely needed.

Developer Cala Homes plans to build 2,000 houses on 230 acres of arable farmland north of Winchester.

That has been vocally opposed by a Save Barton Farm protest group.

Cala Homes plans "a highly sustainable, low carbon development" on the 230 acre wedge of arable land - not classed as Greenbelt.

The site is popular with dog-walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, but equally, everyone in the city seems agreed that Winchester is desperately short of affordable housing.

Barton Farm protesters
Campaigners insist the development is not the answer to housing needs

CALA Homes has said 800 of the new homes would be "affordable".

Strategic land director Mike Emett said: "There is a huge, urgent and unmet need.

"Brownfield simply don't exist in sufficient quantity - only greenfield sites can deliver the social infrastructure, the affordable houses, schools and medical facilities etc which our comprehensive scheme will deliver."

'National treasure'

However the Save Barton Farm group has objected to the plans for the "new suburb", saying the city's roads, schools and services could not cope with development on such a scale.

"We sympathise people who are looking for affordable homes," said chairman Gavin Blackman who insisted brownfield sites should be used before Barton Farm is removed from "reserve status".

"Barton Farm is a short-sighted solution to housing problems.

"Winchester is a national treasure, they [government] need to take a national strategic view to protect all our historic cities," he said.

"Desperate need"

Mr Emett said the development would have a "huge benefit".

"There are an awful lot of people who are in desperate need of housing," he added.

With the Localism Bill offering local communities more say over housing development decisions, he said the house planning authorities needed to ensure campaign groups "with clear intentions and open objections, don't have more weight in the planning process than they deserve."

Whatever the results of the Barton Farm inquiry, it is unlikely to be the end of the 10-year debate - both sides say they will not give up.




SEE ALSO
Plan for 2,000 homes is rejected
14 Jun 10 |  Hampshire & Isle of Wight
Consultation on 8,000 homes plan
23 Apr 09 |  Hampshire


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