HART Council is to base its fight against a big housing development at Hitches Lane, Fleet, on the grounds that it is premature pending adoption of the district's new development plan.

Berkeley Strategic Land has appealed against Hart's non-determination of its plans for 260 houses as well as sports pitches and a riverside footpath on the site. A public inquiry will open on April 3.

Planning manager Mr Martin Pendlebury, who will be a key witness for Hart, said that in his opinion one of the key considerations would be whether the problems that have caused delays in developing the old Gurkha barracks site at Church Crookham could be resolved in time to deliver houses during the current housing supply period up to 2006. Our view is that we are confident that we will be able to resolve those problems," he said.

The council has drawn up a forward plan that aims to see the new Local Plan adopted by the end of October. The aim is also to give planning permission for Queen Elizabeth Barracks by then so that 620 homes can be built there by April 2006.

Mr Pendlebury said it now had the results of a special study to show prospects for brownfield site development in the district. This would also be presented to the inquiry. The Development Control Committee last week voted to resist the application.