A MAJOR new housing estate of 640 homes plus business and industrial space is planned for Harnham.

The proposed development would cover 156 acres between In-Excess and the Cattle Market and would include a primary school for 420 pupils.

Another 100 homes will be built on the opposite side of Netherhampton Road if a public consultation does not overturn the proposals.

The details emerged as Wiltshire Council published a long-awaited draft of the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocation Plan – which aims to ensure the council hits government housing targets by 2026.

In Salisbury, Harnham will bear the brunt with another 100 homes planned at the Rowbarrow Estate in the east.

Elsewhere, Hilltop Way near Old Sarum is earmarked for ten new homes.

But one controversial site Britford Lane, where campaigners have fought fiercely against plans for 100 homes, is excluded.

The main Netherhampton Road site was put forward for a smaller development of around 400 homes in 2009 but was included only as a reserve site on the council's Core Strategy.

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Salisbury's MP at the time, Robert Key, criticised the proposal as "a development too far".

Now the council says it needs to use the reserved land because "complex" plans to redevelop Churchfields industrial estate into 1,100 new homes by 2026 are "taking longer than anticipated".

Land set aside for employment at the new estate will allow some Churchfields businesses to move, freeing up space there for housing in the longer term.

Harnham already suffers from heavy traffic congestion and the council said "comprehensive" road improvements would be needed to cope with the proposed new homes, of which there are 840 in total.

The council said the site included prehistoric barrows and had a "very high archaeological potential".

Wiltshire's Core Strategy sets out the need for 6,060 new homes in the Salisbury and Wilton area between 2006 and 2026.

The council expects homes to be built at Netherhampton Road and at Churchfields "toward the end of the plan period [2026]".

There will be a ten-week public consultation on the plans starting in July if they are approved at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr Richard Clewer said urged people to respond, adding: "This is the chance to influence the decision."

Responding to the news that the Britford Lane site had not been included, Emily Griffiths from the Save The Meadows campaign group said: "We are delighted that Wiltshire Council appears to have listened to the people of Salisbury and agreed that the Britford Lane Meadows should be saved from development.

"We would like to thank the thousands of people, from across Salisbury and beyond, who have supported the campaign to protect this beautiful and historic landscape."

Ward councillor Sven Hocking said it was "spectacularly good news" for people living around Britford Lane.

He added that landowners the Longford Estate and St Nicholas Hospital could still apply for planning permission but "I suspect this weakens their position considerably".

"They will think twice before spending a colossal amount of money," he added.