WINCHESTER has been named as having one of the highest number of villages ‘unsuitable for growth’ due to the way housing developments are restricted, a new report claims.

According to the CLA, an organisation representing owners of land, property and business in rural England, Winchester has 65 villages in which “housing allocation... is either highly restricted or not permitted”.

The organisation looked at 70 local plans, with Cornwall topping the list of areas with the most villages deemed unsustainable at 213.

The research comes amid a number of campaigns by villages in the Winchester district to stop developments, including Micheldever Station and South Wonston.

As previously reported, initial plans have been revealed to build 6,000 homes on at Micheldever Station, which marks the latest chapter in a nearly 30-year planning saga.

The scheme has attracted scorn from the likes of Winchester MP Steve Brine, who said at a packed public meeting last month: “They want to make a killing by killing the countryside.”

Meanwhile, an action group has been formed to fight 16 affordable homes in South Wonston.

The parish council described the scheme as “much-needed” and said: “Affordability of housing is a massive problem in Winchester District and South Wonston is no exception,” while campaigners argued: “It is certainly foreseeable in our lifetime that Southampton to Basingstoke will become one enormous housing conurbation and with little greenfield land left in place.”

Following the release of the report, CLA south-east regional surveyor Tim Bamford said: “Sustainable development is not just for towns and cities. Finding and promoting sustainable solutions for rural communities is vital to the long-term vitality of the countryside.

“Current practices mean small settlements are dependent on very proactive local authorities to meet their needs. Although Cornwall tops the list of the most unsustainable villages, it is in fact an excellent example of an authority addressing the needs of small rural communities despite the classification. Other rural local authorities should follow, and use all the mechanisms available to deliver affordable housing.

Mr Bamford added: “Without more opportunities for young people to remain in the local area these small communities face an uncertain future. We want people to be able to live and work in the countryside but they are being held back by a lack of affordable homes.”

Winchester, which came 12th in the list, is awaiting the results of a consultation on a draft Local Plan for up to 2036. They are due to be released at a city council Local Plan committee on December 3.