CONTROVERSIAL plans to build up to 175 homes on a greenfield site in the New Forest have got the go-ahead.

Civic chiefs have approved a multi-million-pound plan to redevelop land at Crow Lane, Ringwood, despite receiving more than 130 objections.

The scheme, which includes light industry, a hotel and a nursing home, could create as many as 260 jobs.

But people living near the site say it will increase traffic problems, including on the A31, as well as increase the flood risk.

The scheme, by Linden Homes and Hampshire County Council, was approved by just two votes at a meeting of the district's planning committee.

During a long debate several members called for the application to be deferred pending an in-depth examination of the proposals and objections.

Ringwood councillor Michael Thierry cited what he called “alarming gaps” in the report presented to the committee.

He added: “There are sound, sensible reasons for a deferral.

“It would encourage the applicants to look again at what they're proposing and hopefully come back with a revised scheme that's acceptable.”

Cllr Maureen Holding added: “There's a lot about this that I don't like. Linden are a very good firm and I think they'll get there in the end, but I don't believe we can approve something as open-ended as this.”

Cllr Jeremy Heron, who also represents Ringwood, dismissed assurances given by highway experts.

He told the committee: “Every single resident down there knows that what these people are saying is complete nonsense. This is going to create huge amounts of traffic.”

But planning officer Chris Elliott said proposed improvements to junctions in the area meant the roads could cope with extra vehicles.

Commenting on an objection by the New Forest National Park Authority he said numbers driving across the national park to the proposed development would be “minimal”.

Planning consultant Bob Sellwood, representing the applicants, stressed that half the homes would be social housing.

The scheme was approved by eight votes to six.