DEVELOPERS are contesting Winchester’s planning policy in a controversial bid to promote its latest site.

Linden Homes wants to build 500 houses at Pitt Vale to make-up the alleged shortfall in Winchester’s housing quota.

The company says the council cannot show it has a five-year supply in housing to meet needs.

But the city council has hit back and said the proposed site off Romsey Road is outside the city’s settlement boundary and so would be rejected.

Steve Opacic, head of strategic planning, told the Chronicle: “It’s outside the defined boundary of the Winchester settlement so it is countryside and therefore it wouldn’t be permitted under current policies.

“I would expect it to be refused as we are now in the process of Local Plan Part 2 and our current view is we’re not going to need to allocate anymore greenfield sites, other than Barton Farm. We wouldn’t need this, or any other sites, around Winchester.

“If what they’re proposing is contrary to planning policies they have to show other reasons. We are very confident we will be able to provide enough houses to achieve the Government’s targets. If an independent housing inspector agrees to these numbers then we will address that but [Linden Homes] are also talking about an appeal. This is on the basis that they think we cannot provide a five-year supply, but we say we can.”

At an exhibition two weeks ago (July 15) a Linden Homes display board read: “The provision of housing is a national priority, reflected in Government planning policy. Winchester City Council is required at all times to maintain a supply of housing land equivalent to at least five years of the overall provision.”

“Linden Homes is promoting the site through the LPP2 process. However, as the council is not able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing, as required by the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework), the decision has been made to submit an outline application to help meet the Council’s shortfall.”

Richard Ayre, strategic land and planning director at Linden Homes, said: “Following our exhibition, we received nearly 70 feedback forms, along with comments from the individuals and groups we met as part of our initial consultation process including the Pitt Residents’ Association, WinACC and the City of Winchester Trust.

“We are currently reviewing all comments that we have received in addition to undertaking further technical and masterplanning work, and will provide feedback on the points raised in due course.”

In a letter to Linden, Nick Molden, chairman of Pitt Village Residents’ Association, called the development plans “inherently flawed” and “inappropriate”.

He said: “It runs contrary to the stated and agreed planning policies of Winchester City Council. It is not required as the Council has sufficient land supply to meet its housing targets. Moreover, your proposal has been put forward outside the established and advanced Local Plan process – putting it forward in this way is both speculative and vexatious.

“Even if the council were to fall behind on its housing targets, there are many reasons why this proposal is highly unsuitable.”

Patrick Davies, of the City of Winchester Trust, said if Linden gets permission to develop Pitt Vale then all the outskirts of Winchester would be open to house building.