CIVIC chiefs have today agreed to support a masterplan for the redevelopment of a former army base on the edge of Winchester

The Bushfield Camp scheme has been widely scrutinised by local residents and councillors.

The masterplan was supported by Winchester City Council's Cabinet on Wednesday June 21.

Developers envisage a business park on the previously built-up land as well potential hotel, student accommodation, shops, cafe and sports facilities and the conservation of the adjacent chalk downland.

The main causes for concern were the potential impacts on traffic surrounding the site.

City councillor Brian Laming, who represents the Badger Farm and Oliver's Battery ward, said: “Taking into account the 2,500 to 3,500 employees expected on site, this will increase the number of vehicles to a level that the road system is incapable of handling.

“Any extra strain on Badger Farm/Romsey Road is dangerous, causing problems for emergency services to negotiate the road. They already have problems – think of a fully laden fire engine trying to get through the traffic: these are often life and death situations where every second counts.”

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Cllr Jan Warwick, from the same ward, said: “The potential employment opportunities presented by Bushfield Camp are commendable. However, we cannot overlook the concerns raised by residents regarding their local site, unused for 50 years, and is a beautiful open space with its own natural biodiversity.

“I hope we can work together to find a solution that respects the needs of both the residents and the environment.”

Badger Farm Parish Council chairman John Godbold said: “The main concern we have is over traffic and road access. We don't object to the development itself. A lot of residents agree with the development but question the suitability of the site.”

Siobhan Osborne and Ali Cochrane, from Badger Farm and Oliver's Battery Residents Community Association, spoke in objection. Ms Osborne said: "I'm dismayed at the proposal, it's overdevelopment. There has been a lack of transparency throughout the process."

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Ms Cochrane said: “Residents feel duped by this. We need to know that there will be no development creep and that the development is restricted to that area. This will devastate our community. Wellbeing has not been considered here.”

Environmental activist Phil Gagg said: “The masterplan is really a rough first draft. Stakeholders have been told about the vision for the site, but were not involved in it. A lot of work still needs to be done.”

The developers told the meeting that work was still ongoing and that the concerns raised would be dealt with in the outline planning application.

After scrutinising the report and the masterplan, city council leader Martin Tod said: "There were a lot of points raised today which we are not deciding on today, so I understand that people are worried about parking and movements. We have not reached a final resolution today. We have seen approaches put forward by the developer and I think we can see how the issues can be resolved. The fact we are raising these issues before the planning application is a good thing. We need to think about how we thrive as a city and offer the range of jobs our city needs."

The Cabinet agreed to support the masterplan. The next stage in the process will see an outline planning application submitted in September.