ALRESFORD civic chiefs are going back to square one as they struggle with drawing up plans for how the town can evolve over the next 20 years.

A packed meeting last night (WED) heard how the town council was calling for the public to help it draw up ideas on how space can be found for 4-500 homes up to 2031.

But many of the 150-strong audience at Alresford Recreation Centre were sceptical about the exercise as they fear the council is still wedded to controversial plans it proposed last year for houses on farmland off Sun Lane. Perins School and businesses from The Dean would relocate there. Those ideas were roundly slated at a public meeting last May.

Janet Barker said: "Why is the council still proposing plans rejected by the whole room (last May)?They cannot seem to see that they are making a mistake. It's amateurish."

City councillor Ernie Jeffs denied there was a fait accompli and conceded there should have been more consultation before any plans were drawn up. "We made a mistake in the past. We are starting again."

Steve Opacic, senior city council planner, said Alresford needed to grow by 4-500 homes by 2031 otherwise the number of young people would decline and Alresford would become increasingly lederly and middle class.

"Where will the people live who you need to run your nurseries and play schools?"

Many in the audience would like to see a 'Neighbourhhod Plan' produced because townspeople would have the chance to vote on it in a referendum.

But town councillors said at the moment they preferred to work with the city council. A neighbourhood plan would costs some £50,000.

Draft plans will be produced by September with a formal public consultation in late 2013-early 2014.

See next week's Hampshire Chronicle for more on this story.