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Barton Farm development would 'destroy Winchester we love'
BUILDING 2,000 homes on farmland on the edge of Winchester would destroy the city, a public inquiry was told.
Plans to develop Barton Farm were premature as alternatives might be found, would cause traffic problems and mean the loss of chalk downland forever, chief campaigner Gavin Blackman said.
He told Government inspector Christina Downes: “In one fell swoop it would destroy the Winchester we know and love.”
More than 200 people poured into Winchester Guildhall for the hearing which is expected to last eight days.
Campaigners accused developers of trying to ruin Winchester’s heritage, but builders Cala argued that there were not enough affordable homes in the city. Mr Blackman, chairman of the Save Barton Farm Group, said the Government now wanted local residents and councils to set their own house-building targets.
“The Government’s policy means nothing if places like Winchester and therefore our heritage are allowed to be bulldozed into oblivion,” he said.
Cala’s lawyer, Peter Village QC, said Winchester needed new homes, and the proposed scheme would also provide a new school and park-and-ride site.
He said: “For those people who live in Winchester and are lucky enough to own their own home, many of whom are here today, you can understand that they’re not enamoured with the idea of more housing in Winchester.
“But there’s a point to remember and that is there are more people in Winchester, young people, who do not have their own home.
“It’s all very well for those of us who have our own homes to say we don’t want any development, but it doesn’t represent the public interest.”
He also said Winchester City Council’s own reports admitted there was not enough land to meet housing demand for the next five years.
The inquiry is being held after the council twice rejected Cala’s plans to build at Barton Farm.
Cala launched two High Court bids last year to keep the targets. One was approved in November, while a second to strengthen the firm’s case was rejected earlier this week. The final decision will be made by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles after the inspector has made her report.