Villagers’ fury after contentious plans for Waltham housing development are narrowly approved despite strong opposition

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The council had received more than 100 letters of objection against the proposals to build 26 homes on land behind numbers 38-48 High Street.

Numerous concerns were raised including the density and design of the housing, highway safety and access, flood risk and drainage, impact upon the amenity of local residents and impact upon the conservation area and character of the area.

Another concern was inadequate provision of affordable housing, with the applicant proposing to provide 23 per cent (six affordable homes) as part of the scheme instead of the desired 37 per cent (10 homes).

The applicant claimed he couldn’t meet the full quota due to viability issues.

Planning committee members heard from three speakers against the proposals as well as the agent for the applicants before debating the application at length.

An initial proposal was put forward to refuse the application, on grounds including its impact upon the character and appearance of the conservation area based on the housing density, layout and height and that the degree of harm caused by the development outweighed the benefits. Other grounds were insufficient provision of affordable housing and impact upon residential amenity due to the proximity and height of the proposed homes.

But when it came to the vote this proposal was lost by five votes to four.

Other reasons for refusal had also been suggested but the council’s head of regulatory services, Jim Worley, expressed his concerns about a lack of evidence to back these up and therefore, as a result, being difficult to defend should the application go to appeal.

A second proposal was then put forward to approve the plans, subject to conditions, which was passed by five votes to four.

On hearing the committee’s decision one angry member of the public said: “We will be consulting our solicitor. “Legally this will go further.”

Seconds later, as members of the public left the council chamber, planning committee chairman John Illingworth stormed out of the room.

It’s understood Mr Illingworth reacted after receiving abuse from a member of the public, returning swiftly to the chamber to adjourn the meeting for five minutes.

Mr Illingworth declined to comment to the Melton Times after last Thursday’s meeting.