A HUGELY controversial housing plan has been refused following a fiery debate.
Councillors expressed their concerns after a plan which went against planning guidelines was recommended for approval by Flintshire Council officers.
Planning committee members at a packed meeting at County Hall, Mold, yesterday unanimously threw out plans for 41 homes on agricultural land in Hawarden to the cheers and applause of dozens of residents.
Officers were heckled and booed as they attempted to justify why the plan had been recommended for approval, while speakers in favour received rapturous applause.
Councillors also expressed their anger over Welsh Government advice about building more homes in a set timescale being included in a report discussed at yesterday’s meeting and claimed housing and regeneration minister Carl Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside, supported the application.
Holywell councillor Gareth Roberts said: “If Carl Sargeant wants to push this through, then let him do it so. Everybody knows where that’s come from.
“[Alyn and Deeside MP] Mark Tami, a man of the same political persuasion as Carl Sargeant, is opposed to this.
“If we were to pass this, it’s our names that would stink to high hell.”
The Hawarden plan lies outside the village settlement boundary in Flintshire’s Unitary Development Plan and councillors also said new housing in Ewloe already exceeded the permitted maximum of 15 per cent.
Cllr Roberts added: “After reading this report, I did not quite believe what I was reading.
“If this was to be approved, the implications are horrendous for the whole of Flintshire, or even the whole of this country.”
Ewloe councillor Alison Halford also made an appeal to officers over the plans, which are for land by Wood Lane, Old Hall Road and Greenhill Avenue.
She said: “I’m very unhappy that this is being recommended by officers.
“I beg officers to try to once consider the views of residents – there is no need for new houses in this area and the roads are chocka.
“If this goes ahead, the credibility of the planning rules, the planning committee and the planning officers is in doubt.”
Resident James Dathan said: “We are disappointed that this proposal has reached this far – why wasn’t it rejected immediately?”
Cllr Mike Peers added: “It seems to me there is one rule for developers and one for everybody else.”
Mold councillor Chris Bithell added: “The residents of Flintshire have an expectation that the planning terms are followed and to say we’re going to change that, I think would be regarded as quite reprehensible.”
Councillors did not accept the arguments of officers about the plans, which had attracted114 letters of objection as well as a petition with 135 signatures.
Planning officer Declan Beggan said: “It is obvious this has issue has been taxing for everyone. Officers were provided with a very favourable, balanced [offer]. It wrestled with the issues but on balance we felt it would be difficult to resist the development.”
In her report, planning officer Emma Hancock said a key consideration was the need for a five-year land supply which outweighed the fact that it was outside the settlement boundary.