MORE than 250 protesters packed into a public meeting in a market town last night as pressure mounts on housing bosses to scrap plans for hundreds of homes.
A local authority blueprint currently under revision is set to add 1,900 homes to the Romsey area to meet a chronic shortage of family homes.
About 1,300 houses are planned for farmland at Whitenap and another 300 at Hoe Lane.
But anti-development campaign group Romsave last night condemned the plans as flawed and claimed that they would destroy Romsey.
Waving placards and handing out their leaflets, supporters cheered on their spokesmen while heckling Test Valley borough councillors supporting the plan.
At one point Test Valley mayor Councillor Janet Whiteley had to intervene to calm passions down.
Addressing the ruling Conservative councillors, Romsave campaigner Richard Buss said: “Tonight is the time to put party politics to one side, do what’s right for the people, do what’s right for Romsey, send this plan back for a redraft, and save the jewel in Test Valley’s crown.
“Councillors, you simply can’t risk having this plan found unsound, you can’t afford to spend more than the £1.6 million it has already cost, for it to be found unsound.
“But should this current flawed plan end up being adopted, your individual names will forever be associated with the destruction of our beautiful, historic market town.
“Romsave is not saying no to housing in Romsey and we are not questioning the housing requirement for southern Test Valley, however we are saying no to having 94 per cent of Southern Test Valley’s housing requirement dumped in Romsey and North Baddesley.”
Mr Buss also claimed the plan breached Government competition rules.
This is because he said all the housing was being built on land owned by one person, Timothy Knatchbull. He has planned to build a mini Poundbury, a heritage-style village created in Dorset by his godfather, Prince Charles.
The creaking 70-year-old infrastructure could not cope with extra housing, Mr Buss said.
Only this week Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes raised concerns in Parliament about the potential impact new development can place on areas with insufficient drainage capacity.
This followed repeated flooding in Romsey during recent weeks.
But Test Valley planning boss Cllr Martin Hatley said the sites were right, would help 2,500 families in the borough find a home and would save the town by adding more customers.
“Zero houses are not an option,” he said, adding: “The aim of this is to make Romsey a sustainable town.”
Consultation on the revised plan will start at the end of the month, running for six weeks, after which the council will go back and rewrite it, making amendments.
In July it will be sent to the Secretary of State and in September to a public inspector. If it is passed, construction would start after January 2015.