Neighbours in a leafy upmarket suburb are split as developers dangle up to £500,000 cash to buy up gardens for homes...

ON the surface it is a quiet tree-lined street, full of upmarket homes.

Senior business managers and hospital consultants are typical residents of leafy Chilbolton Avenue in Winchester.

But neighbours have fallen out after some were made an offer they simply could not refuse.

The road has been split after some people sold off part of their gardens for up to £500,000 to cash in on demand for housing.

Developers have shelled out millions of pounds for the land to build new homes.

Other large properties in the same street have also been snapped up by builders who want to replace them with dozens of flats.

There are currently about 70 houses in the suburban street.

Another 202 homes have been proposed by developers or already have planning permission.

Totton-based Linden Homes wants to build 49 new homes on the bottoms of gardens behind numbers 8-22.

The Daily Echo understands that the company paid about £5m for a 2.5-acre plot, which included part of eight back gardens and other land.

Michael Newby said he and his neighbours were determined to stop developers targeting the area.

Mr Newby said: "It's become a developers' feeding frenzy. They have been approaching us from as far afield as Brighton and Grimsby. The amount of time that we are having to take to preserve our way of life is considerable.

"We think it is worth fighting for. That is the view of the majority of residents who have not sold out."

Professor Michael Whitehouse, 64, a retired former leading cancer specialist at Southampton General Hospital, agreed. He called on politicians to strike the right balance between developers and residents.

He said: "The council is fearful of developers going to appeal and being landed with costs. The planning committee is in the front line. If they don't take on the role of guardians there is going to be a real disaster."

Ward councillor Ray Love said: "If every application for Chilbolton Avenue is approved there will be 202 new homes. The infrastructure of the city won't take it. The schools are full. There is already pressure on the hospital."

Roger Davey is one of the people who sold part of his garden and described the decision to sell as a tough one.

He said: "We know it engendered a large amount of ill-feeling among the local community and among people we know well. While we have taken the money we think it is an awful shame."

His neighbour Richard Wilkinson, who also sold the bottom of his garden, said: "The damage has already been done. The nature of the road has already changed. It used to be relatively quiet and peaceful. Now it is a rat run."

The developers blame the government.

Pat Feighery, managing director of Linden Homes, said: "It is government policy that is driving us to redeveloping brownfield sites and at higher densities than in the past."

Earlier this week more than 30 local residents renewed their calls for planners to protect Chilbolton Avenue.

Dozens of people showed their fears by attending a planning meeting that discussed plans to knock down four large homes. Abbotswood Properties proposes 49 new homes at 1-7 Chilbolton Avenue.

The planning sub-committee deferred making a decision until it received more information from the county council on highways issues.

It is not the first time a Hampshire road has been split after developers offered residents cash deals.

The Daily Echo understands that Brookworth Developments paid up to £100,000 above the market price to the owners of 15 properties in Twyford Road, Eastleigh.

The company wants to build more than 150 flats. The application is currently being considered by Eastleigh Council planners.