IT must surely have been a first when a beaver appeared before councillors at the Barton Farm forum.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Winchester’s Scouts and Beavers made an impassioned plea to councillors and developers to ensure a good facility for them at the site – and they were supported in their efforts by Chip the Beaver, Hampshire Beaver Scouts’ mascot.

The latest public consultation on the 2,000 home development was centred on community facilities, a hotly debated issue at previous events.

But only a handful of residents turned out for it – far fewer than the 40 or so that attended the last one.

Accompanied by Chip the Beaver and 10-year-old Millie Chillcott, of the Winchester Scouts, Explorer Scout Alex King addressed the forum.

The 17-year-old Barton Peveril student, said: “This is how scouting begins. All of these young ones want to be become scouts. It’s a challenge, but a challenge that is invaluable.”

Millie said: “Can you make sure that Barton Farm has new large scout huts for the hundreds of children who want to be scouts? Can you let Chip the Beaver join the forum, to help Scouts be a part of Barton Farm?”

The 10-year-old’s impassioned plea drew warm applause from councillors and the public.

The Scout movement in Winchester is growing at five times the national average, with figures from their recent census showing a 10 per cent rise in the district, compared to 1.9 per cent nationally.

Such is the demand to join the Winchester group that there are now 200 youngsters on a waiting list.

The city’s Corporate director, Steve Tilbury, said the council is in discussions with developers Cala to see if some land could be set aside which could be used in response to changing demands for community facilities.

“Nothing is definite, but some land that is untouched might be provided for things like a scout hut later.”

He also assured members that the one community centre, which Cala are obliged to provide, will be “very typical in size”, at around 500 to 700 square metres.

Councillors also expressed concern about the timeframe for primary schools to be built by Cala.

Councillor Chris Pines said: “Will somebody please say: yes, the school will be open virtually from the beginning. If it’s not, then the first year or two, parents are going to take their children elsewhere – and we know there isn’t provision for that in Winchester.”

But a spokesman for the county council said that new families moving in during the first phase of the development would place a burden of only around 10 pupils per year across the district – something he said Winchester schools could accommodate.