THE outgoing chairman of the Save Barton Farm Group has launched a stinging attack on Winchester civic chiefs for what he calls their surrender over the development.

Gavin Blackman has stepped down following the outline approval of Cala Homes’ scheme for 2,000 homes on farmland north of the city.

Mr Blackman, chairman of SBFG for 15 years since its inception, said: “I personally will never understand how our Government can allow such a development to go ahead that will totally alter the landscape setting of one of the country's ancient cities.

“I am particularly disaffected by our city council who have capitulated - Winchester deserves better. Their zeal for now working with the developer to make sure the development has the right coloured fences, reminds me of turkeys choosing the sauce to be served at Christmas – if only they had shown as much enthusiasm to actually defend Winchester.”

Mr Blackman added: “The people of Winchester should truly understand that they are being hoodwinked into believing Winchester needs this development – it does not.  Also, the infrastructure necessary to support such a development coupled with the possible next step development of the land north of Barton Farm to Three Maids Hill, means the whole northern vista will be obliterated.  It is not too late to stop this development – SBFG are fighting on – but the Group needs the people of Winchester to show their continued support.”

Cala Homes is currently consulting on details of the scheme which already has outline permission.

A public consultation at the end of January threw up concerns about plans to divert Andover Road through the development.

City councillor Robert Hutchison said: “Informed opinion in Winchester has come to a clear judgment about the idea of re-routing main road traffic to a ‘new’ Andover Road. Building another main road would be wasteful of both land and money – and that too is a significant objection; a new main road is not needed and few people want it – other than those currently living on, or close to Andover Road North (a tiny minority of Winchester’s population).”

SBFG says news of its demise is premature and it will continue to take issue. New chairman, Robert Howland said: “On behalf of the SBFG I want to thank Gavin for leading the group for the past 15 years.  We respect his decision to move on and I want to echo Gavin's sentiments that there are still avenues to pursue to  prevent damage to Winchester from this development.  We will also be watching the threats of further development to the North and the East of Barton Farm.”

The city council were asked for comment but have not responded.