PLANS to build up to 280 homes on the northern edge of the New Forest have cleared their first hurdle.

Members of the district council have approved an outline application to redevelop a large area of agricultural land between Calmore and the M27 motorway.

The multi-million-pound scheme has been put forward by Bloor Homes and a local landowner, Barker-Mill Estates.

The prospect of almost 300 homes being built on land north of Salisbury Road has angered people living in the Totton area.

In a letter to the council Matthew Simpson said: "Access to the proposed site is dangerously positioned on an already high-risk road with a history of fatal and grievous accidents. Schools in Calmore and Totton are at full capacity."

Mr Simpson said pollution levels in the town centre were already above the national average and claimed the proposed development will put nearby residents at risk of respiratory disease.

But other people wrote to the council to support the scheme.

Susan Compton said: "New and affordable housing is in very short supply and I welcome this development, which will enable our young people to remain in the area. Local infant schools do have spare capacity, with land available to expand if needed."

A report to councillors said the proposal would deliver much-needed housing.

It added: "Significant new areas of green infrastructure and habitat would be created, resulting in a connected landscape that would benefit both people and biodiversity."

The report conceded that the scheme would alter the environment but said any negative effects should be balanced against the benefits.

Glen Langham, representing Bloor Homes, told the committee the scheme would include 98 affordable properties.

Cllr Sue Bennison said: “This is a greenfield site and I believe 280 homes is too many – particularly because we don’t know what is coming forward on an adjacent site."

But Cllr Malcolm Wade said there was often no alternative to building on green spaces.

He told the meeting: “We don’t have any other land to put houses on. What’s important here is that there are 98 affordable homes.”

A more detailed application will have to be approved by the council before work can start.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Langham said: "Bloor Homes and the Barker-Mill Estates are delighted that our outline proposals for high-quality homes and supporting infrastructure on land to the north of Salisbury Road were unanimously approved by the committee.

"We have worked closely with New Forest District Council to reach this key milestone.

"We anticipate that work will commence on site in approximately mid-2022, subject to the detailed planning approval process.”