CONTROVERSIAL plans to build almost 150 homes on a greenfield site in Hampshire have been given the go-ahead.

A large area of rural land is set to disappear beneath bricks and mortar following a decision by civic chiefs aware of the need for more housing.

Flats and houses will be built beside a disused railway line that currently marks the northern boundary of Fordingbridge.

The application had sparked 38 letters of objection from locals worried that the proposed development would create extra traffic problems as well as putting too much strain on schools and medical facilities. Some protestors 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 district council’s planning committee.

Pennyfarthing Homes and the Highwood Group Ltd were given permission to build 145 homes in a development spanning both sides of Whitsbury Road.

Objectors who addressed the councillors 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 also came under fire from committee member Fran Carpenter, who described it as “field creep”.

Cllr Carpenter complained that the homes and a public open space that also formed part of the scheme would be on opposite sides of Whitsbury Road, allowing more properties to be built on the section of land allocated for residential development.

But Cllr Maureen Holding said: “When I first knew Fordingbridge it was a tiny village compared with what it is today but we need more housing and this is quite a good solution.”

Fordingbridge councillor Ann Sevier said the scheme was “no more cramped” than existing estates in the area. But she expressed concern about construction traffic.