MORE than 200 new homes are set to be built on Romsey's former brewery site if planners give the go-ahead next Tuesday.

The site's owner, Stanborough Developments Ltd, has submitted plans for 211 new homes and planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval.

If it is given the go-ahead by members of Test Valley Borough Council's Southern area planning committee on Tuesday, it will mark then end of almost 20 years of doubt over the future of the site.

Home to Strong & Co of Romsey for over a century, it was later taken over by Whitbreads, which finally left the town in 1989.

Since then, there has been a range of applications for such things as a retail store, car parking and a Sunday market and residential development.

Matters came to a head in April last year when a proposal for 148 new homes was rejected and the council decided to look at the possibility of a compulsory purchase order to speed up development of the site.

But the Borough's head of planning, Maddy Winter, confirmed this week that there had been no need to follow that route.

"Since the previous application was turned down, my staff have spent a lot of time working with the landowner (John Stanborough). He brought in a new team of architects and they undertook a complete review of the site," she said.

Mrs Winter added that there were still some details to be ironed out and surveys were under way as to the population of bats, reptiles and other creatures on the site.

The result of all the work and negotiation has been 178 homes for the open market and 28 affordable units.

With the council unhappy about the open market/affordable ratio, the numbers have been amended to 172 for sale and 39 for rent.

There is an objection from the Hampshire highways department over the lack of a legal agreement for financial contributions towards off-site transportation improvements near the site.

Housing officers have suggested the one-bedroomed flats in the scheme are too small and that the affordable housing should be sprinkled across the site and not concentrated at its northern end.

Southern Water has warned of inadequate sewage provision to cope with the new houses and the need for additions or improvements.

And while it "broadly welcomes" the scheme, Romsey Town Council has objected to the clustering of the affordable homes, a potential shortage of parking spaces, the private management of the public open space and the positioning of some of the buildings.

Romsey and District Society has lodged a "favourable" reaction, but has raised a number of concerns over such issues as design, amenity space and parking provision.

The officers' report recommends that head of planning Maddy Winter should be delegated to grant permission provided agreement can be reached over transportation funding and financial contributions towards the provision and maintenance of a bridge over Fishlake Stream.

It adds that subject to amendments to "address a few detailed points in relation to the layout", the redevelopment is "acceptable and can be accommodated without adverse impact to neighbouring properties and the surrounding area.

Meanwhile, the council has been encouraged by work on 44 flats already approved for the Malthouse and Mrs Winter said that was already improving the appearance of the site.