THE controversial decision to re-route a major road into Winchester through the Barton Farm scheme was made to “buy off” residents, it has been claimed.

A stretch of Andover Road is set to be diverted through the 2,000-home development to integrate it with the town and create a new hub with shops, a school and a community centre.

But campaigner Mike Slinn said the plans lacked vision and missed opportunities to connect the scheme with surrounding neighbourhoods.

“The first reason for the alignment is that it has been used to buy off Andover Road residents,” he told the Barton Farm Forum.

“It’s quite simple – traffic’s being taken away from them so they haven’t objected to it.

“That’s the purely political reason for it.”

He added that there was a financial motive to directing traffic through the new shopping area.

The diversion has long been controversial but was approved by the planning inspector as part of the outline permission in 2012.

Hampshire Chronicle: Design plans released for Barton Farm development

A CGI of the Barton Farm development

Steve Tilbury, corporate director of Winchester City Council, and Andover Road resident Anthony Munden rejected Mr Slinn’s claims.

Mr Munden said neighbours had been “kept in the dark about what was going on.

“To suggest there was any sort of political bias to pacify us residents is ridiculous,” he said. “We’ve had no way of commenting on the decision that has been made.”

Mr Tilbury said the new community hub would cut car use.

“It seems to work well for people that you drop your kids off, have a coffee, buy some shopping, go home,” he said.

“That one trip, one visit, one social interaction is incredibly important and that’s what we’re trying.”

A temporary junction with traffic lights is shortly set to be installed in Andover Road North to enable construction over the next three years.

The meeting also heard debate about plans to limit 530 affordable homes – out of a total 800 – to those in the Winchester district rather than local areas like Weeke or Harestock.

Cllr Kelsie Learney said many nearby would find it “unacceptable” that they were given the same priority as those in Denmead or Whiteley.