CAMPAIGNERS battling a proposed new town near Winchester have branded the city council's consultation over the new Local Plan as too complicated and confusing.

The city council is proposing four options for the Local Plan but the Save South Winchester Campaign Group is pushing for a fifth, offering more protection to the countryside by using more brownfield sites such as Sir John Moore Barracks.

The SSWCG is opposing plans for a 5,000-home new town called Royaldown between Oliver's Battery and Hursley.

In the consultation, the council is asking for public views on nine ‘Key areas of Focus’, including carbon neutrality, sustainable transport, biodiversity, the historic environment and living well. But SSWCG says it is a confusing and distracts from the main purpose of a draft Local Plan.

In a statement SSWCG said the council's consultation was "too complicated, too confusing and a distraction from the main purpose of a draft Local Plan."

Oliver’s Battery resident and member of the SSWCG, David Kirkby, said: “We believe the most important function of a Local Plan is to agree how and where to provide homes for our current and future needs. The vision in the current Local Plan is not appropriate for inclusion in the new Local Plan, as it was drafted some years ago before the huge changes from Covid-19 and the commitment to tackle climate change.

"The Winchester Town Forum’s Winchester 2030 document focuses on Winchester city centre and although this is important, it only represents one third of the district. What is needed is a new vision for the whole district which focuses on the delivery of sustainable development with achievable objectives. Where the homes go is essential to meet the needs of residents across the whole District, including our market towns, the National Park and rural communities."

Under “Homes for All” the City Council-designed questionnaire only gives residents a choice of four housing growth options as they plan where 2700 additional houses will go.

SSWCG chairman Chris Beddoes said: “These important options are hidden in the consultation format. In our opinion none of the “Homes for All” options 1 to 4 really offers the right approach to meet our housing needs, reduce our carbon footprint or provide sustainable development. Option 2 for example sounds plausible BUT it is misleading as it includes extending the Winchester City boundary to include land in the Royaldown scheme and South Winchester Golf Course. Option 3 is the worst as it suggests building new towns on green fields and should be rejected outright.”

Hursley resident Jan Warwick, also a Conservative county councillor, said: “The campaign group consider there is a better alternative - a 5th hybrid approach that combines the best of Options 1,2 and 4 using brownfield sites and previously developed land across the district, this will breathe life into the city centre, challenge the decline in retail business and meet the needs of and support local communities. Option 5 also supports the concept of a Green Belt for Hampshire to restrict the threat of development spreading across the south of the District and protect the unique setting of Winchester City.”

CPRE-Hampshire and the SSWCG agree that a fifth hybrid option would best meet the needs for new “Homes for All” in the draft Local Plan. They are asking residents who support this approach to email or write to the city council Strategic Planning Dept either by email or letter saying why they support a 5th Option and explaining why they reject the other four options.

The Dever Society has yet to decide its response to the consultation.

What would hybrid Option 5 look like in detail?

· Works alongside the existing supply of housing in the District, which stands at over 11,000 homes;

· Uses brownfield and previously developed sites across the District, such as Sir John Moore Barracks, minimising the need to develop greenfield land;

· Redevelops the City Centre to tackle the challenges of declining retail, including new homes to bring new life;

· Develops some areas in the south Hampshire urban area close to the larger centres along the south coast;

· Allows small developments in-keeping with the character of the market towns and villages, including those in the National Park, which would meet local needs and support local communities;

· Option 5 is also the best option to support a Green Belt to restrict the threat of development spreading across the south of the District and to protect the unique setting of Winchester city.

READ MORE HERE: County council not backing Royaldown proposal

READ MORE HERE: Virtual demonstration against Royaldown