THE developer of the 2,000-home Barton Farm scheme has appealed because council planners are taking too long to reach a decision.

CALA Homes is unhappy about Winchester City Council’s non-determination within the deadline. CALA proposes the homes, some 800 of which will be social housing, as well as shops, a primary school and open spaces on farmland off Andover Road.

Mike Emett, CALA land director, said yesterday: “We were concerned about the length of time it was taking, so we felt we had no choice but to appeal.”

The scheme is hugely controversial with some 800 objections to the biggest expansion of Winchester since Badger Farm was first approved in the 1970s.

A public inquiry is being arranged for September.

In the meantime, if councillors say they would have approved the application then the public inquiry is unlikely to be held.

The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State.

CALA has also resubmitted an identical application to run concurrently with the appeal.

Mr Emett said: “It allows us to continue the dialogue in the hope that a positive decision locally can be achieved before the public inquiry takes place.”

Gavin Blackman, chairman of the Save Barton Farm Group, said: “[This] shows that CALA is determined to destroy this farmland despite the overwhelming opposition of Winchester residents. We trust that the city council will again refuse CALA’s application.”

CALA hopes to secure planning permission this year, start work in 2011-12, with the first homes going up in 2012-13 and completion by 2023.