A WINCHESTER family is pressing ahead with plans for a new housing development on a ‘green gap’ north of the city.

The Welch family wants to build housing and community facilities on 18 acres of the countryside ‘gap’ off Harestock Road near Littleton.

They are launching a public consultation on Monday, July 22, at Henry Beaufort School to present two options.

One would provide 35 homes and the other 71, both including 40 per cent affordable housing.

Both schemes would also provide three football pitches, a youth club and green space for ecology and play.

Adam Welch, a former property developer from Shawford, said: “Our land is probably the most sustainable land north of Winchester and could help meet some of this housing shortfall as well as providing much-needed open space and community facilities.

“Planning is a complicated and lengthy process, but the need is here and now and we have the will and land to help provide a solution to these issues.”

But Patrick Davies, a former city councillor and now senior member of the City of Winchester Trust, said the scheme could set a “dangerous precedent”.

He said: “The trust’s view has always been that the landscape setting of the city is very important, and we have always been keen to protect the green wedges.

“It seems to me a dangerous thing to start to take away this wedge between Littleton and Harestock. “It could be a slippery slope and if this is permitted it would be difficult to resist other development along that road and other gaps in the city.”

Cllr Barry Lipscomb, who lives in Harestock, said he had not taken a view yet, but was in favour of preserving green gaps in general.

“I think gaps are there for very good reasons that have long been applauded by people in the area. That area is a lung and is very nice, but as to any development, I have to wait and see what plans are submitted.”

Either scheme would reduce the shortfall in sport and recreation space, with the larger scheme providing a combined 10.35 acres and the smaller 9.25 acres.

The Harestock Barn would be converted to a youth club which could also be used for a crèche, drama club, dance classes, and club house for footballers.

Bernadette ‘Bee’ Welch, Adam’s wife, said the scheme had a lot of community support, including Winchester Youth Football Club and Winchester Flyers Club.

She said: “So far feedback has been extremely positive.”

Pat Maier, chairman of the St Barnabas and Harestock Community Planning Group and trustee of the former North Winchester Your Community Action, added: “Our group campaigned for a long time for community facilities in the north of Winchester, and this proposal is welcome news.”

John Biddlecombe, chairman of Littleton and Harestock Parish Council, said it was taking a cautious approach.

He said: “We don’t have the information yet to take a stance. It is an exception site under the local plan, but you have to weigh up that part of the deal is providing a youth centre and football pitches.”

The land was bought by Maurice Welch in 1956, but passed to his children after his death in 1975.

The consultation takes place at the school sports hall at 7pm.