A major housing scheme proposal for Bolton-le-Sands was dramatically thrown out yesterday as councillors went against their own planners in a nail-biting vote.
Coastal Road residents cheered as Oakmere Homes’ bid for 37 properties was defeated eight-seven.
The developer will appeal the decision.
Lancaster City Council’s planning committee debated the proposal and heard representations from ten speakers for around two hours.
Planning officers recommended that the mix of two-storey homes, flats and bungalows be granted subject to 31 conditions.
Villagers argued there was no clear need for more housing in the parish, given the number of vacant properties nearby, and that the triangular piece of land in question - 400 metres off Coastal Road by the canal - was the village’s last remaining greenfield site.
Planning agent Alastair Skelton, for Oakmere Homes, said Lancaster faced ‘extreme challenges’ in developing new homes - and council officials said the new housing would help address the wider district’s long-term shortfall in land supply.
Council officers concluded the area was suitably located in the ‘built-up’ area of Bolton-le-Sands.
Highways chiefs, the Environment Agency and Natural England voiced no objections.
But in the face of fierce public opposition, including the parish council, the recommendation to grant was defeated on the grounds of losing the green open space, concerns over drainage, the developer committing to making 30 per cent of the homes affordable, not the 40 per cent the council’s policies state, and worries over so-called ‘piecemeal development’ - gradual building on a site where the visual impact is only realised slowly over time.
‘Disappointed’ Oakmere Homes managing director Chris Middlebrook said: “An appeal will inevitably involve both parties in a great deal of expense and delay the start of building on the site.
“It would appear that those councillors who voted to reject were swayed by a vocal minority rather than considering the development on its merits.
“We are confident that we have presented a very strong case for new homes at Coastal Road; the site has previously been identified for development, it will meet a genuine local need for new homes, and it will also provide employment for people within the area.”