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Winchfield Action Group is calling on neighbouring villages for help
CAMPAIGNERS in Winchfield have called on neighbouring villages to help protect land they call the Heart of Hart.
The Winchfield Action Group (WAG) wants Hart District Council officially to recognise 31 sq km of rural area that sits between Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook and Odiham.
The group was formed last year and successfully fought off plans for an urban development of 4,000 houses around the village, dubbed “Winchfield New Town”.
Now it has written to neighbouring parish councils and preservation societies suggesting they campaign for the area to be designated as green-belt in any revision of the 2013 Core Strategy, which at present does not include plans for a town at Winchfield.
Tristram Cary, chairman of WAG, said: “We realised that a lot of people in the Heart of Hart area feel that a new town would effectively join all these places together. Everybody would lose.
“When you look at Fleet, that has joined up with Aldershot and Sandhurst and all these towns have lost their character because they have been joined together.”
He added that the Heart of Hart area was beautiful in its own right, with Winchfield Church, the oldest church in Hart, and the Basingstoke Canal.
The parish councils contacted by WAG are Crondall, Dogmersfield, Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook, Odiham and Winchfield. The preservation groups include the Odiham Society and the Whitewater Valley Preservation Society.
If their support is gained, Mr Cary said the next step would be carry out of study of the area to detail what makes it special.
Winchfield Parish Council is backing the latest proposal by WAG. Councillor Andrew Renshaw, chairman of the parish council, said: “It’s a matter of pooling resources rather than everyone working in their own corners.”