A petition has been set up to stop 2,500 homes being built as part of a so-called 'garden village' development near Basingstoke.

As previously reported in The Gazette, Portsmouth Estates has submitted plans to turn farmland in Cliddesden into a housing estate around the size of central Basingstoke.

These early plans have been met with fierce opposition from residents who have formed an action group, calling on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to stop this proposal from going ahead.

The petition has already collected nearly 700 signatures.

STaNHD, Stand up for the North Hampshire Downs is a new action group set up by local people to protect the rural environment of the North Hampshire Downs, South of Basingstoke.

Basingstoke Gazette: A community action group has set up a petitionA community action group has set up a petition

Its petiton, listed on Change.org, reads: "The North Hampshire Downs need to be protected for the benefit of all the Basingstoke and surrounding communities. The speculative concept of "Upper Swallick Garden Village" is inappropriate on this beautiful Downland. Please do not include this site in the new Local Plan.

""Upper Swallick" would cover an area the size of central Basingstoke, consisting of at least 2,500 houses in stunning countryside south of Basingstoke. It would engulf the village of Cliddesden and have a devastating effect on Ellisfield, Winslade and all the surrounding villages as well as ruining easy access to the countryside from Brighton Hill and Hatch Warren. 

"The rolling hills of the North Hampshire Downs are appreciated and loved by all who enjoy walking, running and cycling along the lanes and footpaths that cover this beautiful landscape. This area is the "Lungs" of Basingstoke. The long views, fresh air and contact with nature and the seasons are important to our mental and physical wellbeing.

"Traffic levels would rise to unacceptable levels on the A339, B3046 to the Candovers and roads through Brighton Hill and Hatch Warren accessing Basingstoke. Rat runs would be created on smaller roads leading to Junctions 5,  6 and 7 of the M3. 

"The land is farmed and should remain as farmland, it plays an important role providing food, flood protection and carbon capture, helping to prevent climate change, sustain the environment and supporting great biodiversity.

"Once this farmland is gone, it is gone."

Last month, Viscount Lymington and the Trustees of the Portsmouth Settled Estates submitted a concept document to Basingstoke and Deane Council which outlines its goal to create thousands of homes on estate land around Farleigh Wallop.

A message from the proposal read: "To be known as 'Upper Swallick Garden Community' the concept document proposes up to 2,500 homes, retail and employment and associated infrastructure.

"This garden community differs from conventional developments in that the proposal is on land under the sole ownership of the Estate, and therefore gives freedom and choice as to the type of development proposed that is not always available elsewhere."

Oliver Lymington is the current custodian of Portsmouth Estates.

In a message attached to the concept document he wrote that they have a "moral obligation to do our part to help ease the housing crisis".

"Not only do I care passionately about the built environment but I also hope that my family will live here for the centuries to come," he added.

"It is therefore imperative that we create a true legacy development – something that my great great grandchildren and their fellow Basingstoke and Deane residents will look at and be proud of.

"I also recognise that a new garden community must have a greater impact than just its effect on the Portsmouth Estate.

"The legacy must also be of genuine benefit to both existing and future communities.

"It must be inclusive in nature, give meaningful value and opportunity to all ages and provide a diversity of homes and tenure in a manner that satisfies local need."