AN INQUIRY into controversial plans to build hundreds more homes in Fleet was held up this week.

More than 100 campaigners packed into the Hart Council chamber on the morning of April 3 to show their opposition to the proposed 260-home development in Hitches Lane, Fleet, by Berkeley Strategic Land.

Many were forced to stand as government planning inspector David Ward opened the inquiry.

He immediately adjourned it for about ten minutes while an adjoining committee room was opened to take the extra people.

Campaigner Dilvinder Norris, who lives opposite the proposed development, welcomed the massive show of support.

"We were thrilled with the turnout," she said.

"To get so many people to turn up during the Easter holiday was absolutely brilliant.

"It just goes to show that people are very concerned about this extra development."

Mrs Norris is a member of Fleet Development Boundary Action Committee (Feedbac), a local residents' group strongly opposed to land at Hitches Lane being used for future development.

Berkeley has appealed against Hart's non-determination of its plans for 260 houses as well as sports pitches and a riverside footpath on the Hitches Lane site.

But Mrs Norris warned: "The Berkeley Homes proposals are highly controversial as the planning application seeks approval for the development of land that is outside the existing settlement boundary.

"Hitches Lane has historically been the strong defensible settlement boundary to the western edge of Fleet, a fact acknowledged in a Government inspector's report of 1991.

"Hart Council acknowledges that any proposal that crosses this boundary needs to be treated with the utmost sensitivity.

"The proposals would take the Fleet boundary right to the Dogmersfield and Winchfield borders and this has generated a reaction among residents there, who see these plans as a threat to the individual identities of the surrounding villages.

"An initial 260 houses are planned, but members of our group are concerned that if this application succeeds it opens the floodgates for further development on the site," added Mrs Norris.

"This application is seen as the thin end of the wedge.

"The designated land on the application extends from Hitches Lane to Pale Lane and close to the borders of Winchfield, Dogmersfield and Church Crookham."

The public inquiry is expected to end on April 5.

Mr Ward will then visit the site before writing his report.