CAMPAIGNERS battling plans to build thousands of homes in the Hampshire countryside have taken their fight to the heart of the Government.
Representatives from three protest groups – covering Hedge End, Botley, Burseldon and Eastleigh – were invited for talks at Westminster with housing minister Mark Prisk.
It was a chance to voice their fears at the highest level over far-reaching plans to bulldoze huge parcels of green field land and pave the way for up to 4,700 new homes.
Proposals include concreting over Botley Park Golf Course, land off Stoneham Lane in Eastleigh and a site off Woodhouse Lane in Hedge End.
Representatives from the Botley Parish Action Group, the Hedge End and Bursledon Action Group and Save Stoneham Park told the minister they were desperate to retain the countryside plots.
The meeting was organised by Maria Hutchings, Conservative Party spokeswoman for Eastleigh.
She said: “I am sure that the Minister of State was sympathetic to their argument that Eastleigh Borough Council should balance the need for more housing with a greater sympathy for the genuine concerns of local people on this issue.
“I will continue to work with all interested parties to fight for the interests of residents and campaign for the council to amend its housing plans.”
The controversial proposals are part of Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Plan which, if given the go ahead, would see 9,400 homes built across the borough in the next 17 years, with nearly half that on greenfield land.
The blueprint suggests building 1,300 homes at Stoneham Park, which will include 100 acres of historic parkland.
Plans have already been unveiled to concrete over the greens and fairways at Boorley Green golf course and construct a new 1,400 home estate complete with new primary school, community buildings and sports pitches.
Up to 1,000 homes would also be built at Woodhouse Lane.
Council bosses say the plan is “sound” and that it will help protect separate open spaces in the borough and provide a framework for planning in the future.
But last night campaigns against it were continuing.
Save Stoneham Park members were waving placards at the entrance to Doncaster Farm, a known bottleneck for traffic, in the hope of raising awareness of their cause among drivers caught up in the regular rush hour chaos.
Michael Reed, who attended the meeting in London, said: “We are hoping when this plan goes to the Government inspector that the relevant department will recognise the fact that these are the wrong places to build this number of houses.
“It was a very positive meeting – the minister was very sympathetic and understood what the objections were and felt that they had validity.”
The Local Plan is currently proceeding through the pre-submission consultation phase, which ends tomorrow.