CIVIC chiefs have approved controversial alterations to the major Barton Farm development in Winchester.

A planning committee agreed to a larger pub at the 2,000 home scheme but only on the chairman’s casting vote after a tie.

Applicant Cala Homes was granted outline permission in late 2012 with the original permission allowing 1,000 sq metres for mixed retail and pub use, on condition no individual unit exceeded 200 sq metres.

Cala applied for the pub to be up to 500sq m, but several councillors raised concerns because it would mean less space for other units and could dominate the area.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Barry Lipscomb said: “I think that is too big for this particular site. I think it would be vibrant to a degree that would be inappropriate for the location and it would have an effect on the town centre.”

Cllr Kim Gottlieb added: “It’s a big change. If we were looking at increasing the overall space that would be fine but by increasing the pub we are diminishing the retail offering.”

But other councillors argued the plans had been well-researched and suggested there was a demand for a large pub.

Cllr Therese Evans said: “It’s important for the community to have a local meeting place. Pubs are not just places for people to go and have a drink, they are a social hub for a village.”

The committee also gave CALA more flexibility over provision of a medical building after local health bosses said there was no need for a doctors’ surgery, as was originally intended.

Councillors were again divided but the majority backed the change, with a drop-in clinic mooted as a possible replacement.

Cllr Jane Rutter said: “We have a new surgery at the Friarsgate Practice just down the road and permission for a new surgery at St Clements. The way that people access health services is changing quite dramatically. Something like what is being proposed is very much in the local interest of the community.”

Cala has been consulting councillors and residents for the past few months over the detailed plans, including a controversial proposal to move Andover Road through the development.

The scheme was given the go-ahead last November by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles after years of protests and objections.

More detailed plans on the house designs will be submitted in the next few weeks.