Plans to build eight new homes in the village of Enstone hit the buffers as district councillors at West Oxfordshire District Council went against the advice of planning officers.
A patch of land at Chapel Lane had been put forward for up to eight dwellings, two of which were set to be offered at 30 per cent below market value to make them affordable.
However, the potential loss of green space was described as “disastrous” by one councillor, and the outline application, which, if passed, would have given the green light to the principle of developing the site, was rejected by eight votes to four.
Ward councillor Andrew Beaney (Con, Kingham Rollright and Enstone): “This, really, is quite a difficult one to work on because it is an outline – rather than a full – planning application. What we are looking at could be totally different from what actually appears.
“There are some pluses for this site. I do accept that. The affordable housing, the fact they are not cramming in every single house they can, the fact it will not be a rat run, there will be two separate roads and then the parking for the village shop if used correctly.
“But I do have concerns about how the site is being used. (Council policy) OS2 point six says it will not involve the loss of an open area, space or any other feature that makes an important contribution to the character and appearance of the local area.
“Listening to what the people at the meeting in Enstone were saying, they consider this an important open space. They are not saying they want access to it. They are saying they consider it an important open space… that it leaves the village open.
“Point four of OS2 says it needs to be compatible with adjoining users and not have a harmful impact on amenity or existing occupants. We don’t actually know that because it is only an outline planning application.
“If the houses at the bottom come in two storeys (higher), they are going to have a domineering effect on the surrounding area. If they drop them down, a lot of soil will be taken out, and that will impact the ecological side.”
Planning officer James Nelson accepted detailed designs could not be considered yet, but pointed out that such matters would be looked at again before being allowed to progress.
He said: “At this point it seems likely to officers that there is a design that could be found that would not have an adverse impact upon neighbours.”
Councillor Jeff Haine (Con, Milton-under-Wychwood) said: “It is a relatively small, open green space in the middle of housing all the way around it, and I think that is a very important green space for the residents of Enstone, especially those who live in and around that block on Chapel Lane. To build on it would be disastrous.
“If you look at policy OS2 and all the general principles, most of which apply to this site, I don’t think it falls in favour (because of) two affordable homes and four parking spaces. I think the amenity of the local residents is far, far more important.”