LOCAL residents and campaigners arrived in their hundreds yesterday as they protested plans for 5,200 homes to be built near "ancient woodland".

Over 400 people campaigned outside of the independent planning inspector's examination meeting at the Botleigh Grange Hotel and Spa in Hedge End, as a last bid effort to stop the local plan from being approved, which would see 5,200 new homes, shops, schools, open spaces and a new access road built on land between Bishopstoke and Fair Oak.

Action group, Action Against Destructive Development (ADD) have been fighting against the plan for more than 2 years, and have gathered an array of support from people and organisations in the local community.

ADD representative, Kate Beal Blyth, said: "We are very grateful to the 400 supporters who turned out early this morning despite the weather and lack of parking facilities to show their dismay and anger at the way Eastleigh are trying to steamroller their plan against the will of local residents. The turn-out shows the strength and depth of feeling on this issue. We go into the inspector’s examination of the Eastleigh Local Plan buoyed by their support."

As well as holding the demonstration, ADD will be making their case against the local plan to the planning inspector over the coming weeks, during the six-week examination period where the viability of the overall local plan will be assessed.

When asked about the demonstration, Council leader Keith House, hit back saying: "The ADD pressure group has always been clear they want building on other people’s doorsteps. The Borough’s Local Plan meets the government challenging targets for housing need, delivers infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion, and protects green gaps that separate our towns and villages."