A HAMPSHIRE village has just got a little bit stronger.

A new development of ten homes for rent to local people has just been opened at West Meon near Winchester.

The £1 million-plus scheme by Hyde Housing and Drew Smith builders will mean young families being able to live in the village giving a boost to the local school and shops and facilities.

Residents, councillors and developers gathered on Saturday (DEC8) for the official opening of the scheme off Marlands Lane which has taken eight years to achieve and overcome some opposition from some residents, the South Downs National Park and the Campaign to Protect Rural England who said it was too prominent on a hillside above the village and next to the A32.

Residents were delighted in the houses which only be for rent to people on the Winchester City Council waiting list. The homes are built around grassy communal green providing a safe place for children to play.

Dan Bray, one of the new residents, said: “It is brilliant, I love the place,” joking the only downside was having to take out a mortgage to pay for the curtains on the giant south-facing windows.

His partner Michelle Creese, whose mum and gran have lived in the village, said: “It is fantastic. We would not have been able to live in the village otherwise.

Chris Waller, chairman of West Meon Parish Council, said: “This is a very important day for us, a day of great celebration. This is an investment in the future of our community. It is about the sustainability of the rural community, helping the shops, the pub, the butchers all the things that help make the community function.”

Roger Chung, of the builders Drew Smith, predicted the scheme would win awards and added: “This is a development with a terrific sense of place, a sense of belonging.

“It will add life to West Meon, it will help regenerate the village and is a pattern for other communities.”

Mac Edwards wielded the symbolic spade the finish off the planting of a lime tree. He was the chairman of the parish council who supported the scheme.

It comprises two three-bedroom houses, three two-bedroom houses, one one-bedroom bungalow and four one-bedroom flats, housing about 30 people.

The development even has a dormouse bridge to allow the animals to safely cross the new access road.