THE Barton Farm development cannot be stopped - so make the most of it.

That was the message from civic chiefs and Barton Farm developers at a special forum at the Guildlhall.

The city’s council operations director, Steve Tilbury, told the meeting on January 16, that developer Cala Homes is free to build the scheme according to current planning consent.

He also said the forum had scope to influence the design code, which will decide how the site looks and things like the relationship between buildings and open spaces.

But many city councillors remain cautious. Cllr Sue Nelmes said: “What I want to be assured of is that we’re going to be allowed to participate in the putting together of the design code, because if we cannot, there’s no point us going on any site visits.”

Cllr Jane Rutter said: “We’re extremely worried about the way in which traffic will be directed from the site. If it goes through the worthies then the infrastructure needed to convey it will totally alter the character of the village.”

Council leader Keith Wood said that visits to similar developments elsewhere in the South would be arranged so that forum members could gauge what would be good for Barton Farm and what would not.

Meanwhile Labour councillor Chris Pines sought assurance that local tradesman would benefit, and that “as Winchester’s biggest employer for the next few years”, the Barton Farm development would bring apprenticeships for young Wintonians.

Last week more than 100 people had signed a letter calling for the scheme to be revamped, with the re-positioning of Andover Road through the site being the main source of concern – something the developers are not budging on.

At the forum a spokesman for Cala confirmed that London-based architects John Thompson & Partners had been appointed to take care of the first phase of development.

Work on the designs and the first phase is due to be completed by the end of 2013 and building should begin in early 2014, with the first homes ready by late 2014.

A council report said the scheme is due to take 10-15 years to complete.