It's fantastic news that campaigners to save Chawton Park Farm have successfully aborted the Conservative-led East Hampshire District Council attempts to transform this beautiful, ancient landscape in Alton into a massive housing estate. 

Well done to the efforts of the Alton Society and the thousands of Altonians who campaigned against EHDC’s plans, which have now been dropped from the draft Local Plan.

But the fight is not over. The new draft plan shows that rather than refuse such a massive development for Alton, a town which has drastically increased in size over the past few decades as a result of numerous housing developments, EHDC has simply moved its plans for a mammoth new housing project to the other side of Alton, at, you guessed it, another picturesque location: Neatham Manor Farm.

Quietly published late on Friday, December 22, presumably to avoid scrutiny, EHDC proposes 1,000 new homes to be build on greenfield land, with the possibility to also build a new primary school. 

No new health practice, no new secondary school, and weak commitments to improve community facilities. No recognition of the hundreds of new cars this will add to our already congested, pot-holed roads, exasperating the climate crisis which EHDC claims it is committed to doing its bit to mitigate. This is on top of 700 more new homes that, according to the draft local plan, must be built in Alton, not to mention all the additional houses that must be built in the surrounding area and villages. 

Why should they be built in Alton, and not leafy Petersfield, where the EHDC counsellors sit in blissful ignorance of local opinion, or Bordon, where brownfield sites could be utilised. 

I seem to recall the leader of EHDC promising he would query the status of the South Downs National Park to ensure towns like Petersfield take on their fair share of new housing. 

This appears to have fallen by the wayside. And what about our local MP Damian Hinds? His silence on his party’s perilous planning laws is deafening. 

I do hope Altonians will again come out in force to fight this grotesque housing development and that EHDC will think again. Perhaps the upcoming general election is one outlet where we can push for change. 

Kieran Watkins

Windmill Fields, Four Marks