RESIDENTS of Alresford say they are “appalled” with their town council over the way it has handled proposals for nearly 400 new homes.
A packed hall at Perins School saw 350 residents slam the town council over alleged “biased” exhibitions and miscommunication. There was even a call for a referendum.
Winchester City Council's Local Plan Part One requires 500 new homes in Alresford between 2011 and 2031, and 386 are yet to be allocated.
The town council had favoured developing land off Sun Lane but mounting public concern forced it to stage an exhibition of alternative options on June 27-28.
At the meeting on Friday (July 18), chairman Lisa Griffiths admitted those new proposals had been “presented unfavourably”, sparking uproar from residents.
Marilyn Weston, of Jacklyns Lane, said: “I'm astounded that you can sit there and say what you say and hold yourself high. You all should be hanging your heads in shame and I have said that to you before. You do not communicate to the town. You had one opportunity to get it right and you got it wrong, again! For two years you have got so much wrong.”
Ms Weston's attack prompted applause from the audience, whilst others shouted “it's ridiculous” and “this is appalling.”
The new ideas would spread the development across the town including west of New Farm Road and north of The Avenue.
It also reduces the amount of open space, has no provision for a new burial ground or any industry and would still include 150 homes at Sun Lane.
Steve Opacic, head of strategic planning at Winchester City Council, answered questions and assured residents that at this stage the council is still “planning the plan”, with nothing yet decided.
Nicola Moyes, of Nursery Road, said: “It feels like it's a done deal for Sun Lane, and it's not fair. You keep saying that nothing has been decided but I'm sitting here thinking everything has been already.”
Other concerns included comparisons to other towns and the impact on existing facilities, transport, parking, and the rate of building work.
Richard Chatwin, of Orchard Close, said: “Why can't we build 30 houses a year in areas around the town instead of a big carbuncle site like Sun Lane? That is the kind of organic growth we need that is sustainable.”
Mr Opacic said: “Whatever happens there will always be pressure to build in Alresford because people want to live here and developers want to build here.”
After the meeting a visibly-upset Mrs Griffiths said: “The town council have not seen an alternative which meets the needs for the 500 houses. We will have to have another town council meeting before the end of the month to either confirm or otherwise the resolution we made in January. The only alternative we have is to not make any recommendation and let Winchester decide. We would have no control and input if that happened.”