PLANS to build more than 140 homes near a Hampshire nature reserve have been thrown out after sparking 500 objections.

Members of New Forest District Council went against the advice of planning officers and rejected an application relating to a large site off Snails Lane, Blashford.

Gladman Developments had sought consent for 143 properties - 50% of which would have been affordable.

But the site's proximity to Blashford Lakes – flooded former gravel pits used for nature conservation and recreational activities - sparked a huge number of protests.

Objectors included Ringwood Town Council and Ellingham, Harbridge and Iblsey Parish Council. Both raised concerns about the potential impact of the homes on the local infrastructure and on Snails Lane, a private road used by commoners to drive livestock on to the Forest.

But members of the district council's planning committee were recommended to approve the application.

A report to councillors said: "Overall, whilst a small part of the proposed development is contrary to policy, it is considered that it meets the three key objectives of sustainable development.

"It would meet social objectives by creating a safe, vibrant and healthy new community; and it would meet environmental objectives by securing a high quality built environment and by protecting and enhancing the natural environment."

Helen Ball, representing the applicant, said the outline application laid the foundations for a high quality development.

She added: "It will also provide 50% affordable housing, which is 72 new homes – delivering dwellings for people and families in real need of a home.”

But Roly Errington, of Ellingham, Harbridge and Ibsley Parish Council, described the proposed development as totally alien to the area's “strong, semi-rural character”.

Cllr Michael Thierry added: "If people power-counts and democracy has value or meaning inside this council chamber, then the application will be dismissed.”

The council's head of planning, Clare Upton-Brown, urged the committee to judge the application on its merits, adding: “We will never get to the point where we satisfy everyone because there are some who will object to anything on this site.”

After a lengthy debate the application was rejected by nine votes to six.

Councillors cited the loss of trees, the density of the development and what they described as the lack of an agreement that would guarantee the provision of affordable housing.

Gladman Developments could decide to lodge an appeal or submit a revised scheme.