HUNDREDS of people last night told civic chiefs to think again over plans for 300 new homes on the edge of a Hampshire market town.

The main hall at Perins School in Alresford was packed as around 500 people voiced near unanimous opposition to proposals to expand the town.

Alresford Town Council, which called the meeting, has expressed the view the town needs to grow to secure its long term future.

Town councillors were put on the spot by the audience and most agreed to reconsider their views.

Chairman Lisa Griffiths said: “Our job is to represent your views. So that is what we will do.”

Resident after resident slammed proposals to develop farmland off Sun Lane, with 320 homes, the relocation of industry from the town centre, a new gypsy and traveller site, with new access off the A31 bypass.

The Winchester Local Plan says that Alresford should have 500 new homes from 2011 to 2031. Jim King said: “With 500 houses we are jeopardising a key asset. A supermarket will soon follow.

“The high street will disappear. Businesses will struggle with the exception of expensive coffee shops and clothes shops.”

Colin Tester said the huge development would threaten the town’s tourist industry.

“What are tourists going to visit, building sites? There will be more cars, not tourists, and years of contractors’ traffic.”

The meeting heard it was important for an alternative plan to be developed.

Dr Martin Burton, of Itchen Stoke, a consultant for the World Bank, said: “Unless people stand up to be counted, the city council and planning inspectorate will roll over us. If we don’t mobilise this will go through.”

He added: “Alresford is a unique community. With the wrong type of new houses, for commuters from London, that mixed community will be lost. The real danger is that people leave Perins School and cannot afford to live in this community.”