Plans to demolish an old hotel in Flintshire to make way for houses have been refused amid concerns about road safety and developing an area of countryside.
Two companies launched a bid to knock down Plas Ifan Hotel in Northop Hall in August to create 24 new homes in its place.
Bod Hotels and CC Land Ltd said they wanted to build a mixture of three and four-bedroom properties, which they claimed would meet local demand.
However, more than 170 letters of objection were submitted by residents, who said the proposals would put pressure on local services.
Speaking at a meeting to discuss the application yesterday, community councillor John Golledge also said the development was out of keeping with the village and could cause it to lose its identity.
He said: “It would be visible across open fields as an isolated development and would stick out like a sore thumb.
“Furthermore, the proposals involves the demolition of Plas Ifan – an iconic building which would represent a significant loss of village heritage at a time when we are embarking on projects to develop a heritage hub.
“Village Road is the main thoroughfare and has stretches with no footpaths and others with very narrow footpaths on one side.
“It is totally inappropriate for the current levels of traffic and should certainly not be subject to more.
“There are many unreported traffic incidents, including pedestrians being hit by cars while on the pavement, to the extent that we’re trying to convene a meeting with Streetscene and the police to review how traffic may be better managed along these roads.”
Flintshire Council’s chief planning officer recommended the scheme should be refused as he said it would harm the surrounding countryside.
He added the village only had a limited range of local services to support the extra houses.
But some planning committee members questioned whether giving permission to the plans could help to meet a shortage of affordable housing.
Independent councillor Patrick Heesom said: “The decision in this particular case does raise certain issues that aren’t in the report.
“You’ve got to ask yourself, in that community how much affordable housing have you got? You’ve not got a lot.
“This is one of the opportunities to provide that for some of these young families.”
His views were opposed by Labour’s Derek Butler, who supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse the plans.
He also voiced his anger over an e-mail submitted by representatives for the developers ahead of the meeting in which they threatened to request a planning inquiry if the application was turned away.
He said: “The reason this is before the committee is because it’s a departure from the plan, it’s speculative and outside the development boundary.
“Many of us may have had an e-mail from representatives and there was the offer of affordable housing, which is welcome normally.
“But there was also the threat of an inquiry in that e-mail as well and it doesn’t sit well with me as a member of this forum trying to make sense of planning issues when these things are taking place.”
The proposals were rejected at the end of the debate by twelve votes to two with two abstentions.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).