HOMES are springing up on a former greenfield site which was at the centre of a planning battle.

Developers are forging ahead with a scheme to build almost 150 flats and houses on land beside a disused railway line on the edge of Fordingbridge.

The line, which fell victim to the infamous Beeching cuts in the 1960s, used to mark the northern boundary of the town.

An application to build 145 homes on the site was approved by New Forest District Council in August last year.

The proposal sparked 38 letters of objection from locals worried that the development would create extra traffic problems as well as putting too much strain on schools and medical facilities.

Some protesters said it would damage the town’s semi-rural character.

But the scheme was approved by 17 votes to one at a meeting of the council’s planning committee.

Pennyfarthing Homes and the Highwood Group were given permission to provide much-needed housing in a development spanning both sides of Whitsbury Road.

Objectors criticised a traffic survey conducted by the applicants, saying it was carried out in the wrong place at the wrong time - and came to the wrong conclusions.

Dr Bill Syratt said: “The people of Fordingbridge are not against additional housing but they are against the wrong sort of additional housing.”

The application was also opposed by several members of the committee, but Cllr Maureen Holding supported the proposal.

She said: “When I first knew Fordingbridge it was a tiny village compared with what it is today but we need more housing.”

The development, Augustus Park, is named after a famous artist who used to live in the town.

Augustus John was one of Britain’s best -known portrait painters in the 1920s.

His subjects included Lawrence of Arabia, Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw.

Lawrence was once based at RAF Calshot and lived in Hythe.

As reported in the Daily Echo last week, discussions exploring the possibility of creating a new set of policies to shape future development in nearby Ringwood are set to resume.

Members of Ringwood Town Council will debate a motion for looking into a

neighbourhood plan for the town

after initial discussions led to the proposal being deferred in November last year.

Councillors will consider whether to approve the use of the existing budget to engage consultants on the matter, which equates to a commitment to £3,000, at a meeting on Wednesday.

Neighbourhood plans allow communities to produce policies which focus on issues specific to the needs and ambitions at a more local level, such as housing.

In September, Cllr Jeremy Heron said the neighbourhood plan “is the biggest waste of money this council has considered to spend in a long, long time”.

However, Cllr Philip Day said: “It gives us an opportunity to have a far greater say legally in terms of planning applications than we have at the moment.”