CONTROVERSIAL plans to build five homes in the North Wessex Downs have been approved.

The one-hectare site, on brownfield land at Whitway Farm just 500 metres from the entrance to Highclere Castle and in an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), will now see two three-bed, two four-bed and one five-bed house built.

Previously industrial units and prior to that a poultry farm, the land lies in the countryside just outside Burghclere and close to the A34.

The plans were initially given the go-ahead in April 2017, when councillors gave the project outline planning permission, and now that further details have been provided by the applicant, officers at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have been able to approve the project.

The houses, which were designed by architects at Pro Vision, feature a traditional construction with oak frame features, timber clad walls and clay tile roofs.

Pro Vision planner, Laura Black, said: "Naturally our client is thrilled with this result.

"Not only does this permission maximise the value of a brownfield site, but the removal of the large, redundant storage buildings and concrete hard standing and their replacement with five sensitively designed dwellings will benefit the local area, boosting the supply of housing.”

However, Burghclere Parish Council had objected to the application when it was initially submitted.

They said that they did not approve of the development in an AONB, and that the two masts in close proximity to the houses raise health concerns.

They added that whilst affordable houses are wanted in the village, the location of these homes are too far away from amenities in the village, and that it is not close to schools or bus routes.

However, outline planning permission was granted and now officers believe that the use of building materials are "sympathetic to the character and visual amenity of the rural area", and that the scheme would not harm the special landscape quality of the AONB.