Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has voted in favour of protecting green spaces in the borough, which could include a new green belt.

Measures to further protect areas of countryside in southern Test Valley were supported by councillors after a full meeting on February 26, after being proposed by the council’s planning portfolio holder, Councillor Nick Adams-King.

He said a South Hampshire Green Belt would provide a "vital" access to the countryside for urban residents and would protect “almost unique” areas in the south of the borough.

Following the vote, TVBC is now backing the principle for further measures to protect the countryside. The idea of a green belt, or other forms of protection, would mean the council would work alongside other authorities in the county, such as Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council in helping to designate appropriate areas for future protection from development.

Southern Hampshire would be covered by these potential added measures, including areas between Portsmouth, Southampton and around Romsey.

If a belt was set up, authorities would need to consider urban and brownfield sites for development before being able to sanction development in the countryside.

The idea was supported by the countryside charity CPRE Hampshire, who have amassed around 15,000 signatures for the creation of the belt.

Cllr Adams-King said: “For TVBC, we always prefer development in urban areas and specifically on existing brownfield sites. However, due to the pressure on us to build houses from central government, we can find ourselves without any other option at times.

“The creation of a green belt in the south of the county would offer these villages and towns protection from development in the larger more populated areas, particularly around Southampton. I’m very pleased that my fellow councillors have supported the motion which will give us more protection for the countryside, including the possible creation of a green belt, that will all help to ensure homes are built in the right places at the right times.”

He said that the council ‘owes it to children and grandchildren’ to start a green belt.

Cllr Mark Cooper, however, said that green belts were "not a panacea" for controlling development.

Following debate, councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion.