MORE than 100 people turned out to air their views on a proposed housing development in the north of Winchester.

At stake is 18 acres of green ‘gap’ land off Harestock Road near Littleton, and a public consultation was held at Henry Beaufort School to present two options.

The presentation from Paul Bulkeley, of Winchester-based architects, Snug Projects, showed a ‘character led’ proposal of 35 homes, contrasting with a ‘density led’ alternative of 71 homes.

He said that the Welch family, who own the property, are offering to keep up to 70 per cent of the site as open space.

He said: “The most important message is that this is a rare and generous type of development. It would be very easy for the Welch family to not allocate any land to the community and push for greater density.

“That’s exceptionally generous.”

An impromptu vote orchestrated by Mr Bulkeley suggested residents are split down the middle on whether the site should be developed into a mix of open space, community facilities and housing, or whether it should not be developed at all. They voted 30 in favour of some kind of development, 28 against.

Increased traffic was a major concern for many of those attending, although Mr Bulkeley insisted the increase resulting from the development would be “negligible”.

Peter North, 49, of Fromond Road, is chairman of the Weeke Community Association.

He said: “I’m not convinced that traffic won’t increase. They can quote all the stats they like but since Aldi and Waitrose opened stores, traffic in Harestock and Stoney Lane has proved that that’s not the case.”

The meeting also heard that both schemes would provide three football pitches, a converted barn as a community facility, and some green space.

There was debate at what would be the best use of community space and scant support for the football pitches.

But Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP, Steve Brine, said: “One thing I know is that there is need for football pitch provision. But if the community feel there is enough in there for them, they will support it anyway. This is real community-led planning.”

Pat Maier, chair of the North Winchester Community Planning Group for St Barnabas and Harestock, said: “This is the chance we have been waiting for. It’s an opportunity for a community facility for this area.”

But Tamar Sutton, 47, of Chestnut Avenue, said: “Keeping the open space would be more of a benefit than community facilities. I think the beauty of this place is the natural beauty. Why build on it?”

Simon Welch said the family had previously turned down an offer of £1.6m from developers for an option on the land, because they wanted to maintain a say in its future.

“In a way this is a legacy for us. When our dad died we moved out but we maintained the land. We were blessed to grow up here. All that green space was our play area,” he said.