Civic chiefs have agreed controversial plans to build thousands more houses in the Hampshire countryside.

It came at a heated meeting last night packed with scores of protesters.

Eastleigh council planners met at the Kings Community Church in Hedge End to debate and decide the next stage of the highly controversial delayed Local Plan for the borough.

And they agreed to look to focus on the area of the borough north of the Bishopstoke and Fair Oak area.

Those proposals are known as Options B and C in the council report outline the alternatives.

The council will continue to look into Options D and E, which would see around 2,500 new homes being built between Allington Lane and Burnetts Lane.

It is now also looking for a new bypass running between the two communities from Fair Oak to Allbrook and linking to the M3.

Council Leader Keith House said: “This decision confirms that we remain committed to getting the right homes in the right places, protecting the gaps between our towns and villages and tackling congestion at the same time.

“Long-term planning for the next 20 years gives us greater opportunity to ensure we can fund the infrastructure we need for the future.”

He added, “The council’s responsibility to meet the housing needs of the area is set by the Government’s national planning policy.

"The council needs to demonstrate to a government-led planning inquiry that development is capable of delivering the proposed housing and that it is supported by necessary roads, schools and community facilities.”

Work on the Local Plan will now continue with local communities having their chance to comment on future proposals as part of a full consultation process planned before summer 2017.

The council’s housing target is to deliver 16,250 homes by 2036, of which more than 5,000 will need to be found on new greenfield sites.

The council's last Local Plan for 2011-2036 was thrown out by a government inspector in 2014.

The council had rejected alternative plans – known as options D and E - which would see around 2,500 new houses, including 35% affordable, being built on land between Allington Lane and Burnetts Lane north of the M27.

A full house of residents and campaigners from Action Against Destructive Development Eastleigh (ADD) had turned out share their views on the borough council’s progress report on growth options for the area.

There were frequent rounds of applause from the packed house for public speakers, with councillor Judith Grajewski requesting that the length of time for speaking be lengthened from three to five minutes, which was denied by the mayor of Eastleigh.

One of the public speakers, Bishopstoke resident John Edwards, called for a local referendum on the issue.

He said: “The turnout demonstrates the level of anger and concern that Option B and C are generating.

“You may think you are building for the future but all you are building are problems.”

Earlier this week, ADD delivered a planning consultant's report to the borough council ahead of the meeting, urging councillors to recognise the report's conclusion that options D and E “are overwhelmingly the best suited to meet Eastleigh’s housing needs from a practical, environmental and traffic perspective".

The council’s meeting also follows a controversial plan to build more than 700 homes in the area being given the green light by a government minister this month.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid overruled Eastleigh Borough Council to give the go ahead for developers Gleeson Homes, Miller Homes and Welbeck to build 680 homes at Borley Green near Botley.

The decision was made after it was decided that the council did not have an up-to-date local plan or a five-year housing land supply.