PLANS for 45 new homes have been thrown out by civic chiefs amid fears it would close a 'green gap' north of Winchester.

The Welch family's outline proposal included 40 per cent affordable housing, eight self-builds, public open space and a barn which would be converted for community use on land off Harestock Road.

But planners warned that building there would see an end to the leafy countryside surrounding Littleton and join the village with Harestock.

Head of strategic planning at Winchester City Council, Steve Opacic, said the council is in the process of delivering homes through local plans one and two, so should avoid ad-hoc development.

"The council has to demonstrate that it can provide five years of housing band," he said.

"Should this come to an appeal I am confident that we can demonstrate that. I am confident that we have a robust supply of housing."

There was much debate surrounding lack of open space in Harestock and need for a community facility.

During a passionate speech former mayor Cllr Eileen Berry said she supported the application.

"Twelve years I have been trying to get a facility for the 11-18-year-olds," she said.

"I have been on so many committees where it has been perfectly clear there is no real dedication to getting something off the ground.

"So along comes the forcible Mr Welch and his lovely family. Along he comes with this wonderful gift. People want that facility and a permanent one."

The meeting also heard from open space officer Stuart Dunbar-Dempsey who said Harestock has a shortfall of public green space.

Representing Littleton and Harestock Parish Council Patrick Cunningham objected the proposal, as did Cllr James Byrnes who branded the community centre a "white elephant", and newly-elected Cllr Paul Twelftree.

He said out of the near 300 letters either supporting or objecting the ideas only 131 came from within the parish, with others from as far away as Epsom and Twickenham supporting it.

Bernadette ‘Bee’ Welch, wife of Adam Welch who has led efforts to persuade the council, said the land has been in the family for some 60 years.

"The application has outstanding support," she said.

"Harestock was developed in the 1970s without family space or community buildings. With the loss of community hubs over the past two decades the effects are felt. This is the only real hope to provide this.

"It's somewhere we want to live and raise our families."

In debate Cllr Therese Evans said: "It really depends on what sort of Winchester we want. Do we want a Winchester where we have applications coming in willy-nilly or do we want a Winchester with a local plan process?

"Local plans one and two have taken up many hours of officers' time. To allow this would be a mistake and open up the floodgates for other developers."

The planning committee on Thursday (May 28) unanimously rejected the proposal.

After the meeting Mrs Welch told the Chronicle: "I think it's very disappointing to very many people in the community, especially those that have been campaigning for 12-15 years."