MORE than 170 people packed into a church hall as the campaign to stop a controversial development gathered momentum.
Residents and community leaders met at Catherington Church Hall to debate plans to build 135 homes at White Dirt Farm, a picturesque stretch of countryside between Catherington, Horndean and Clanfield.
The message was resounding – that the land should not be developed and East Hampshire District Council should refuse application.
An overwhelming majority of residents favour the major development for Horndean happening at Hazleton Farm, close to the A3(M), rather than smaller piecemeal developments on the last remaining fields between villages.
Guy Shepherd, a councillor for Horndean, spoke at the meeting about the housing need and councillors’ strategy to get new homes built in areas that the community supports.
He said: ‘The White Dirt Farm application would contrast with this.
‘The tone of the meeting was that White Dirt Farm was a poor choice of land to develop, and compared with the communities overwhelming preference the council should refuse the application.
‘Planning applications are assessed for their impact or contribution to social, environmental and economic effect on the community.
‘For each of these the community would get sold short compared to the proposed land east of Horndean application where the proposals would deliver far more.’
Cllr Shepherd said he felt confident the application could be refused with community support.
The key issues for refusal, he argued, were regarding landscape, green gaps and lack of infrastructure.
Local resident and environmental expert Derry Carr spoke about the importance of wildlife corridors and how the proposals would affect this.
Horndean Cllr Sara Schillemore, who sits on the planning committee, told The News a site visit was expected to happen very soon.
Developer Taylor Wimpey has previously stated the development would bring ‘much-needed high-quality housing’.
Meanwhile, the application for Hazleton Farm is expected to be submitted to the council in the coming weeks.
A decision on all the plans will be made at a later date.