The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) usually fights against development that would destroy the rural idyll.
But the charity is backing proposals for hundreds of properties on land which straddles Horndean and Rowlands Castle in East Hampshire.
The site is Hazleton Farm, near the A3M, and has won support because it is not on land close to any other houses. It would also be a large part of East Hampshire’s new homes quota set by the government – meaning other, more contentious, greenfield sites may be left alone in future, safe from development.
Christopher Napier, planning co-ordinator of CPRE South Downs and Central group, said the organisation was sometimes unfairly seen as ‘anti-development’. He has made a representation on behalf of the organisation to East Hampshire District Council’s planning department.
In it he says: ‘This would be a very large development on a greenfield site, but we are impressed with the design of the scheme. There is a clear green infrastructure approach with interconnected green spaces, retention of existing vegetation, mature woodland, trees and hedgerows. Some 40 per cent of the total area will be allocated to landscape and open space.’
However, the group has called for a better assessment of lighting at the site and warns that planning conditions are needed to make sure all natural features are retained as proposed and that the planned community facilities are actually built.
He added: ‘The setting of the listed buildings must be protected and we would prefer to see deeper landscape planting along Pyle Lane and Havant Road.’
The area has been inundated with applications for smaller developments, such as the White Dirt Farm plans, but residents are now pinning their hopes on the fact that Hazleton Farm will meet the 700-home target for Horndean, and several have written to the council to praise the plans.