CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 4,700 homes on Hampshire countryside will destroy communities, residents warned last night.

They lined up to beg councillors not to go ahead with proposals that will see thousands of new houses spring up around Eastleigh borough over the next two decades.

More than 150 people packed out the public gallery at Eastleigh council’s civic offices and around a dozen people spoke against the plans.

Councillors voted by 30 to eight to adopt the plan.

Strong opposition was shown against the plans to build 1,400 homes at Boorley Green at Botley Park Golf Course.

One representative from Botley Park Golfers urged the council not to destroy “a jewel of a course”.

Sue Grinham, from Botley Parish Action Group, urged councillors to reconsider building homes at Allington Lane, which earlier this year was offered as an alternative to the development at Boorley Green.

She said: “Building at Allington Lane will not destroy or consume an existing community. If you do this development at Boorley Green our lives will suffer. Please do not rip this community apart.”

Peter Ford, chairman of the Aviary Residents Association in Eastleigh, spoke to oppose plans for 1,300 homes at Chestnut Avenue. He presented the council with more than 300 letters of objection that he had collected from the Aviary estate.

He said: “The strategic gap between Southampton and Eastleigh will be destroyed if you allow this development.”

Other large planned developments include 1,400 homes at Stoneham Park and 1,000 on land around Woodhouse Care, near Hedge End.

Councillors were meeting to discuss the Draft Local Plan, which includes plans for up to 9,400 homes – half of which are on greenfield sites – in the next 18 years.

Council leader Cllr Keith House said the borough needed between 500 and 550 homes a year over the period to meet housing needs. He said the plan was a starting point for debate and a public consultation would now begin.

He added: “This isn’t a tablet of stone saying here it is. This plan will evolve over the course of the coming months and the next year. There are difficult decisions to make but it is important that we face up to our responsibilities.”

Now a full public consultation will be held up to the end of the year. A Government planning inspector will also have to approve the plan before any building goes ahead.