IT HAS stood empty at the centre of a Hampshire town for almost three decades.

Now development at the former brewery site, known by many as the “eyesore of Romsey”, could finally start if new laws are passed in Westminster.

Government housing chiefs want to give local authorities more power to deal with developments that have stalled.

Test Valley council has come under mounting pressure from locals and community leaders alike to deal with the brownfield site, left empty since 1988, owned by Dorset-based Stanborough Developments.

It has been urged to make Stanborough, who promised to develop the site after buying it, commence the construction of 207 homes that it was given permission to put up in the 1990s.

However, the only work that has been completed on the site, off Duttons Road, is the conversion of the old Malthouse into 44 flats and the construction of a handful of houses at the Malmesbury Road end of the development.

But the new government proposals, named Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, suggest giving councils “more effective tools” to deal with circumstances were planning permissions has been granted but no substantive progress has been made.

The plans, currently in white paper stage, also note updated laws which will encourage councils to be more active in the use of compulsory purchase powers to promote development on stalled sites for housing.

One Romsey resident who decided to take action was Dr Samantha Price, owner of Romsey Dental Care.

She was tired of seeing the eyesore every day and started a petition in an attempt to kickstart the work.

This petition, with the help of local MP Caroline Nokes, was delivered to the minister for housing and planning Brandon Lewis MP.

Dr Price said: “I am very pleased and proud that the petition [I believe] has played a part in bringing this issue to government attention and I hope that Caroline will continue to push for the site to be developed.”

MP for Romsey, Caroline Nokes, who was part of a campaign to push for development on the site to start, added: “If TVBC were to take action, as described in the white paper, I would be fully supportive.“I know this has been an issue which constituents have been concerned about for a long time – ever since I was a borough councillor.”

A TVBC spokeswoman said the council cannot currently act under current planning law.

The Romsey Advertiser was unable to reach Stanborough Developments was unavailable for comment.