A Romsey councillor has accused Test Valley planning chiefs of being “dishonest”.

Mark Cooper’s outburst comes after a developer wanting to build 29 retirement flats in Romsey was asked to contribute towards the cost of creating a “Forest Park” out of existing woodlands along the M27 corridor at Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams.

Mr Cooper said the Forest Park doid not exist and the developer, Churchhill Retirement Living, should not be asked to help fund it.

“Demanding a cash contribution for a fictional Forest Park is dishonest. The Forest Park is pencilled in to be located along Southampton’s northern border, but within Test Valley Borough Council’s area. The landowners of the area in which the council would like to allocate the park are unwilling to give their land away unless they get some development in return,” said Mr Cooper who represents the borough’s Tadburn ward.

He added: “If the Forest Park cannot be delivered, then the Draft Local Plan may be found unsound again. In the meantim, developers such as Churchill are being asked to hand over over cash to fund a scheme that might never happen and that’s not just dishonest, butfraudulent.” In response to Mr Cooper’s remarks, a spokesperson for the borough council said: “The officer report acknowledges that the Forest Park does not exist and clearly states that the authority is seeking contributions towards the provision of a Forest Park.

“Other recent developments in Test Valley have also provided contributions towards this.”

“Planning inspectors have agreed that it is appropriate to seek financial contributions towards the provision of a Forest Park. The council and inspectors have been satisfied that such payments are justified to take the pressure off local sensitive areas. The terms of the legal agreement are that any contributions that remain unspent at the end of a ten year period would be repaid,” added the spokesperson.

Churchill has applied to redevelop the Rayco Ford garage site, in Romsey’s Winchester Road. The controversial scheme, which will be debated by the borough’s southern area planning committee on Tuesday, involves building 19 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom sheltered apartments with a communal laundry and a manager’s office.