CAMPAIGNERS are urging Hampshire County Council to “kill” Royaldown after discovering that the authority is backing the controversial scheme.

The council owns part of the land that could be used to build 5,000 homes, a new road and a large industrial estate between Hursley and Oliver’s Battery.

In a document uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, the developer for Royaldown states that they “have the consent by the landowners”.

They highlight 215 acres of Hampshire County Council land as an integral part of the proposal. If this is converted from agricultural use to commercial use it would generate an estimated £50 million profit for the authority, say the Lib Dems.

The county council says no such support has been given and that the developer is mistaken.

Lib Dem campaigner James Batho has written to the leader of the council Keith Mans.

He said: “The Conservative administration at Hampshire County Council could kill Royaldown permanently, totally and tomorrow – and I’ve written to the Conservative leader to ask him to do this.

“All the Conservatives need to do is withdraw the county council’s support for the scheme and it’s all over. Without the road that goes across the county council’s land to Badger Farm Road, it won’t be viable and can’t happen.”

Mr Batho has also written a Freedom of Information Act request to find out more about any council decision to support the scheme.

“When was it made?,” he continued. “Who made it? When were councillors involved? And why have the Conservative administration and Conservative councillors kept silent about the county council’s plans when there’s so much public opposition to the scheme?

Cllr Stephen Reid, county council executive member for commercial strategy, human resources and performance, disputed the developer’s assertion that there was council support for their plan. He said: “A number of discussions have been held with the county council in its regulatory capacity to understand key infrastructure requirements, such as highways and education, that might be needed for a project of this scale. However, no discussions were held with the county council as a landowner before the submission for Royal Down was made by the developer into the Local Plan process. The developer is therefore mistaken to have stated ‘yes’ to the question ‘the landowner has given permission for this site to be submitted’.

“The county council has not given any formal consideration to making the land available for this proposal. Should the city council approach Hampshire County Council in its landowning capacity regarding its preparedness to make its land available to support this or similar proposals, then the county council would consider its position and response at that time.”

The Chronicle asked the county council for its views on Royaldown several weeks ago but got no response.

Royaldown already faces huge opposition including from local residents, MP Steve Brine and the wildlife charities CPRE and Butterfly Conservation.

Lib Dem city councillor Eleanor Bell, who represents the area, added: “Hursley residents have been completely betrayed by the Conservatives on this. Everyone I’ve spoken to is as shocked as I am that the Conservative county council is one of the drivers of the scheme and could stop it tomorrow.

“They want to know why Conservative county councillors have decided to say nothing about this and have not used their power to stop the Royaldown proposals.

“The county council needs to withdraw its support now and kill the scheme stone dead.”

A petition against the scheme currently has 3,877 signatures.

Lib Dem county councillor Martin Tod said: “The Conservatives have serious questions to answer. Their party, and their party alone, controls Hampshire County Council.

“And that council, and that council alone, is the only one backing the scheme. The Conservative Party, and the Conservative Party alone, could have stopped this project before it even started – and everyone I know is asking themselves why they didn’t.”

The Lib Dems have come under fire from the Conservatives local campaigners because the Lib Dem-controlled city council has produced a developers’ wish list called a SHELAA, short for Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment. It is a statutory requirement for all council to produce such a list.