A CONTROVERSIAL appeal for hundreds of homes on the edge of Winchester has been withdrawn.

The scheme to build 350 homes on the south-western edge of the city at Vale Farm, off Romsey Road, has been withdrawn by developer Linden Homes.

The scheme was outrightly turned down by Winchester City Council planning committee in July last year, but Linden appealed the decision.

But they have now withdrawn their appeal, before it went to the Planning Inspectorate.

The news comes after another appeal to push through a major development near Winchester at Otterbourne by Gladman Homes for nearly 100 homes, was also withdrawn before it went to the Planning Inspectorate.

Both schemes were contrary to council policy. The city council says it has already identified key sites necessary to provide space for the supply of housing, including Barton Farm where 2,000 homes will be built including 800 affordable for people on the council housing list.

Linden Homes’ decision to withdraw the appeal has been welcomed by leading councillors and Winchester MP Steve Brine.

Mr Brine said: “Developer sees sense and withdraws appeal to build on land at Pitt Vale. I am really pleased and know that sentiment will be shared across the area by thousands of my constituents. As I have said many times before, Winchester has a fully signed-off Local Plan, and speculative developers should remain acutely aware of that.”

Planning officers previously said scheme should be refused as it does not fit into local plan policies, and that there are enough designated sites.

The city council was confident that their local plan, proves that the council has adequate housing supply.

The Vale Farm scheme attracted objections from 468 people, and 98 letters of support.

The city councillor for Badger Farm and Oliver’s Battery, Jan Warwick said she is glad Linden Homes has seen sense, and spoke of residents’ relief after the decision.

Cllr Warwick said: “The Pitt Vale proposal did not have the support of local people. It was opposed at every stage by residents, parish and ward councillors. Winchester City Council signed off their Local Plan for housing across the Winchester District this year.

“The plan allows for the development of new homes but alongside the necessary infrastructure needed to support residents in the future. Applications to develop areas such as Pitt Vale put unnecessary pressure on services such as transport, healthcare and education. The appeal was hanging over all of us and I know the local residents will be relieved with the decision”.

The decision means that apart from Barton Farm, called Kings Barton by the developer CALA Homes, there will be no major greenfield development around Winchester for many years. However, once Barton Farm is built, such schemes as Vale Farm and land north of Wellhouse Lane, will again return to the spotlight.

The Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing, Cllr Caroline Horrill,welcomed the decision.

Cllr Horrill said: "This proposal for large scale housing on a prominent greenfield site had caused consternation to local residents and was in direct conflict with our Local Plan.

"It would have been very costly and time-consuming to defend and I am pleased that the developer has taken a realistic position and that our firm stance has upheld the strategy of the Local Plan.

"The recent adoption of Local Plan Part 2 was the culmination of many years of sustained community-based work by the Council - we are one of a small number of authorities that have the benefit of an up-to-date development plan.

"Its existence enables the Council to resist proposals for unsuitable development on the basis of an agreed direction that is defined in consultation with local people."

A spokesperson from Linden Homes South said:“We have decided to withdraw the Appeal at Vale Farm following a review of recent decisions elsewhere in the Winchester District. Regardless of this, we will continue to promote the site through the forthcoming review of the Winchester District Local Plan.”