COUNCILLORS have hit back at a countryside charity after it supported the proposed development of Whitehill and Bordon in its response to East Hampshire District Council’s Large Development Sites consultation.

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the town site would be “largely brownfield and would take advantage of the employment opportunities, a new town centre and other facilities already built or planned”.

Whereas the proposed sites at Chawton Park Farm, Alton, Neatham Down, Alton, South of Winchester Road, Four Marks, and a large part of Northbrook Park, Bentley, are said to be “within tracts of countryside which are ‘valued landscapes’, and so should not be developed”.

Christopher Napier of CPRE Hampshire said: “The four sites in open countryside bordering the A31 at Alton, Four Marks and Northbrook, are within landscapes of high quality which, as ‘valued landscapes’, we consider should be excluded from further consideration as sites for large development.”

But Councillor Andy Tree, leader of Whitehill Town Council, said it was “disappointing”. He said: “Do they understand we have yet to see a new town centre delivered and yet to test its ongoing viability”.

“It is not as clear-cut as they seem to assume in terms of the facilities and infrastructure that Whitehill & Bordon could provide so many extra people and the negative affect it could have on current residents.”

Hampshire county and district councillor Adam Carew said he was “shocked and utterly mystified” at CPRE Hampshire’s decision, as Whitehill and Bordon is “unquestionably the most ecologically sensitive of all the larger sites in the district”.

But his concern is that “unlike Whitehill and Bordon”, Four Marks and Northbrook Farm have “a lot of highly- organised and articulate protest groups who will have responded to the consultation in their droves”.