RESIDENTS turned up in force to raise their objections to a major development of a former army base.

After pulling out of the last public meeting, development representatives for Bushfield Camp were questioned for two and half hours on their plan to transform 42 acres of the 106-acre site on the edge of Winchester, with the remaining 64 acres retained as publicly accessible, biodiverse, natural open space.

The proposed development includes student accommodation, a hotel, a business park providing up to 2,500 jobs and conservation of the chalk downland.

Around 90 residents from Badger Farm and surrounding areas went to the meeting at the community centre on Monday, July 10, expressing their overriding disapproval.

READ MORE: Developer of Bushfield Camp pulls out of public meeting

Hampshire Chronicle: Resident Roy Dickinson questioning the panelResident Roy Dickinson questioning the panel (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Main causes for concern included biodiversity and the loss of the peaceful walking areas, traffic, lack of parking, the height of buildings and whether there is a demand for change.

Beginning the public questions, Simon Lever of Juniper Close said: “I went to the very first consultation. That was in no way as broad or massive as it is now. I’m really concerned someone is being very economical with the truth.

“There hasn’t really been any forward consultation. We all must stand together and be opposed to this plan because it will infringe upon our countryside. There’s something wrong here because the original plans were nowhere near as massive or as destructive.”

The concept masterplan, created by Legal and General (L&G), Gisborne and the landowners the Church Commissioners for England, was supported by Winchester City Council's Cabinet last month.

SEE ALSO: Bushfield Camp masterplan approved by Winchester City Council Cabinet

Sitting among the audience, Winchester City Council leader Martin Tod was urged to speak up. Cllr Tod said: “Back in 2012 I opposed the allocation of Bushfield camp into the local plan. I turned up and said it was a bad idea.

“We agree with not building on the down, protecting the beech trees, redeveloping the fields as downland.

“But we were explicit in not agreeing to the massing, the scale, number of parking places and the student accommodation. We were accepting what was in the scope of the plan.”

Hampshire County councillor, Jan Warwick’s question over the need of the plan was applauded and repeated throughout the evening. Cllr Warwick said: “Have you got the evidence to show there is a need for it? Evidence that those jobs are needed. We don’t want to be building a business park for people to commute to it.”

Pointing out that the site had been allocated for development in 2013 within the Local Plan, David Pattison of Make Architects said: “We’ve been employed as designers. It’s above us whether something is done or not.

“There’s been three consultations with the first-round understanding what the local community wanted including cycle routes, green spaces, green roofscape and accessible public spaces. There’s a real opportunity for the community to get involved.”

READ ALSO: Concerns by Badger Farm Parish Council about Bushfield Camp proposals

Primary school teacher and trustee of the residents’ association Peter Roberts expressed his disappointment that the Church Commissioners failed to show up. He said: “This was out of order, they should have turned up. They’re the owners of the land and they owe it to us to be here.

“I think you’ve underestimated that people of Badger Farm are not impressed. You can’t tell us who will own the land and who will be there, I’d like to know who these mythical users are.”

Hampshire Chronicle: 'Hands up if you oppose the development''Hands up if you oppose the development' (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Badger Farm resident Liz Wald has been in the area longer than the Sainsbury’s. She said: “The site could be developed, it’s a bit of an eye sore. Initially it was for small businesses and it has now snowballed into something with loads of links with businesses and universities and cafes.

“What protection will there be for these open spaces? One thing I like at the moment is that it is grass paths. If you start putting in tarmac paths it could ruin it.”

SEE MORE: 'An absolute scandal' - Damning report publish into Hampshire water quality

Taking the floor, landscape consultant Sheena Bell said: “The actual camp area is quite hard to get into. It’s thriving with wildlife and nature and rewilded which is great.

“The benefit of this project is that we are securing the long term management of the land. It will deliver in excess of 10 per cent biodiversity net gain. Having water on that site will really help the biodiversity.

“We’ll have paths that everyone can access including people in wheelchairs. It’ll end up having wider recreational benefits for the city as a whole.”

One resident of 40 years was reduced to tears. He said: “It seems like everyone here has some reason for objecting. Perhaps, the people who are doing good for the community should come up with an alternative plan. Clearly it has to be developed but it’s a matter of how much money the Church Commissioners want to get out of it.

“Surely there must be enough expertise between us to come up with a plan that is better than this?”

The final question came from resident David McChesney who asked the developers: “What they’d be taking away from the meeting?”

Planning consultant Neil Goldsmith confirmed the plan was still to submit a planning application in the autumn with documents that go into more detail on the issues raised including the climate emergency, transport, parking and the heights of buildings.

The consultation remains open at