Plans to build up to 72 homes close to the railway test track at Old Dalby have been approved despite fears voiced by Network Rail about the safety of children who would be walking to and from homes there.
Sarah Grey applied to Melton Council to build the development, on former Ministry of Defence land opposite 1 and 10 Station Lane.
Members of the planning committee expressed concern on Thursday that the nearest property would be within 60 metres of the track, where new and modified rolling stock is tested away from the main line.
Network Rail objected to the scheme and said it had plans to develop its site further with permission already granted for three additional sidings to be built close to the boundary where the houses would go.
The company states, in a report considered by councillors, that children would likely be walking to school past the test track entrance from the new development prompting safety fears.
It said warning signs needed to be positioned along the boundary fence to the housing scheme because of the presence of high voltage overhead line equipment and regular train movements.
Councillor Elaine Holmes told the meeting: “I am very concerned about this. There are going to be lots of little children living on this development and we all know that little children like trains and railways.”
But Colin Wilkinson, agent for the applicant, told councillors: “The boundary to the site with the railway line will have a two-metre high acoustic fence which will be a security measure and also reduce the impact of noise to homes on the development.”
The outline scheme provides for eight fewer homes than a previous application on the site by the applicant.
But Nether Broughton and Old Dalby Parish Council objected to the scheme on the grounds that the village does not have the infrastructure to support so many new residents.
One of its members, Councillor Jerzy Schmidt, told the committee: “We don’t object to housing on this site but we do object to 72 houses. Our Neighbourhood Plan recommends a minimum of 42 properties on this site and we feel it should be closer to this figure.”
Objector Simon Proffitt said permission had already been given for several other new housing schemes and they were unsustainable in a relatively small village.
He told the meeting: “Approval has already been given recently for 163 homes and this would make it 235 which would increase the parish by 40 per cent.”
Planning members voiced concern that Old Dalby has not had a shop for several years and that there were few community amenities aside from a pub and a village hall.
But Councillor Pam Posnett said the fact that the site was mooted for housing in the Neighbourhood Plan made it difficult for the committee to refuse the proposals.
“It’s an outline scheme so it will come back to us with more details when we can look at it again,” she told colleagues.
Approval was granted for the scheme on condition that around £470,000 was paid for the extra school places required and almost £20,000 towards village hall funds.