BATTLE lines are being drawn over plans to build more than 5,000 homes and community facilities near ancient woodland.

During a council meeting being held on July 20, Eastleigh Borough Council will be indicating the area to the north and east of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak as the preferred location for a new development which could see 5,200 new homes, shops, schools, open spaces and a new access road north of Allbrook, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak.

The scheme will have a major impact on villages such Colden Common, Twyford, Upham and Bishop's Waltham.

However, the final decision on the plans could be made as late as this winter after the council has considered the results of surveys aimed at showing the impact that the development could have on transport and environment.

As previously reported by the Daily Echo, the plans sparked a fierce debate between residents because of the proximity of the proposed development to ancient woodland such as Stoke Park Woods, Upper Barn and Crowdhill Copse woods.

TV naturalist Chris Packham branded the plans a “piece of eco-vandalism” and residents set up an action group called Action against Destructive Development Eastleigh (ADD).

During the meeting on July 20, the council will also indicate its preferred location for another development of 1,704 homes set to be built within the borough.

As previously reported, national policy requires the borough council to help meet a shortfall in housing across south Hampshire by providing 14,580 homes in the next 20 years.

Plans for almost half of these homes have already been given the go-ahead, such as the 1,100 homes and community facilities set to be built on a site south of Chestnut Avenue and west of Stoneham Lane in Eastleigh.

Council leader Keith House said: “This Local Plan confirms that we remain committed to getting the right homes in the right places, protecting the gaps between our towns and villages and tackling congestion. Long term planning for the next 20 years gives us greater opportunity to ensure we can fund the infrastructure we need for the future.”

The meeting will take place at Kings Church in Hedge End at 7pm. Members of the public who would like to have their say should contact the council and register in advance.