THE EXTENT of villagers' fears about plans for a housing scheme in the middle of Cheriton was revealed on Monday night.

More than 100 residents crammed into the meeting as Knightspur homes unveiled its proposal for the former timber yard at Freeman's Yard.

The drawings of the plans, submitted to Winchester City Council last week, were also on display as were representatives from the developers.

Residents say 24 new homes planned near the village school - to be a mixture of residential and commercial use - on land earmarked for development some 11 years ago, is ill-conceived and will lead to traffic chaos.

A worry is that up to 80 more vehicles a day using the narrow lane to access the site will compromise the safety of the 106 pupils who attend the school.

"You've not respected any of the concerns we had at the last consultation a year ago, shouted one angry villager.

Another, Martin Roberts, said to planning consultant, John O'Donovan, speaking on behalf of Knightspur: "I'm concerned about the width of the bridge. I don't think you can fit two cars across there. Why don't you go back and do your homework?"

Liz Clarkson, who has lived on School Lane for 12 years, said: "I already have to drive carefully in the morning to avoid youngsters - what happens in the event of an emergency when the access is just a single lane? There must be a greater accident risk and that must be taken into account."

Mrs Clarkson added that there were now 30 more children at the school than there had been when there was a timber yard on site.

The villagers were responding to Mr O' Donovan's earlier assessment that the proposed development was a "lawful" use of the site and that his client had deliberately kept the commercial use within the scheme to a minimum because of the inevitable increase of traffic.

He said highways engineers had looked at the bridge on the lane and maintained it could take "two-way traffic" and extra tonnage.

He said the village currently experienced 46 vehicle movements per day and that experts had assessed that the capacity of the road could be as much as "150 movements per day".

Other fears expressed included how the remnants of the industrial activity left on the site would be removed and cleared and how drainage would be handled on the sloping site.

Villager Simon Scott also added: "It's a boring development. This is a square with as many houses plonked in as you can get."

Mr O'Donovan said the density of the scheme was as low as you could achieve according to Government guidelines and described the design as "Cheritonesque" and "quality".

"We want to lose the unsightly development on the site and put on better buildings," he said.

After the meeting Mr O'Donovan phoned the Chronicle to clarify the position regarding the bridge. Highways Engineers, he said, had measured it as 4.35metres wide. Government guidelines state that 4.1metres are required for two cars to pass safely. Mr O'Donovan added that the bridge had enough space nearby for an alternate traffic system to be installed - such as one car waiting for another.