THE future of Bushfield Camp on the edge of Winchester is again coming under the spotlight.

Nearby residents have been hearing rumours about its future and local city councillors raised the issue at Council.

Cllr Brian Laming asked about discussions between the agents of the owners the Church Commissioners, who have been trying to develop the former barracks for 30 years, and the city council.

Council leader Stephen Godfrey said the commissioners and their agents Deloittes have had several meetings with officers "to explore how they could bring forward proposals which would meet Local Plan requirements."

He said the council's policy was that only development around the camp's parade ground, off Badger Farm Road, would be acceptable.

in the recent past the university and some senior councillors such as former leader George Beckett have suggested use as a science park.

in the 1980s the commissioners proposed a supermarket and housing for the land on the southern edge of the city.

But Cllr Laming, who represents Badger Farm and Oliver's Battery, said of the recent talks: "I find it quite disturbing that ward members have not had this information before. Ward members were due to meet the commissioners but it was cancelled directly after the commissioners' agents met with officers."

Fellow ward councillor Jan Warwick said: "What guarantees are there to protect the open space within Bushfield Camp to allow continued public access despite any development?"

Cllr Ian Tait said: "There is overwhelming public support from people within Winchester for development within Bushfield Camp itself. For every ten people I speak to nine question why it hasn't been built on, and only one says it should be protected."

Cllr Godfrey added: "Many business representatives have expressed such views in line with their desire for employment opportunities particularly with high-value jobs in and around Winchester."

Deloittes are running several workshops for members of the local business community and amenity groups and parish councils.

There will be a community drop-in session on Tuesday December 13 at the Middle Brook Centre in Winchester between 2-7pm.