REDEVELOPMENT plans at Chester's Tower Wharf remain unresolved after two years of negotiations.
The scheme, which involves offices, bars, restaurants and shops together with almost 150 homes, was recommended for refusal at a meeting of Chester's planning board in May.
This week, planning officers recommended permission after applicants British Waterways, Bellway Homes and CTP made changes to meet concerns raised in consultations and by the city council.
But councillors agreed on a 10-0 vote that the decision should be deferred.
They had been considering a report which included references to a legal agreement, 26 conditions to be applied to any permission, the planning history of proposals for redevelopment of the site dating back to 1996, almost 60 planning policies and a summary of more than 40 representations.
Planning board vice-chairman and College ward Cllr Sandra Rudd (Lab) said she welcomed 25% of the development being affordable housing and the deletion from the plans of a proposed seven-storey residential tower.
But Cllr Rudd said she still had major concerns about proposals for the Bluebird Garage site, where she believed houses were too close to the boundary.
Cllr Rudd, who was chairing the meeting of the city's planning board, also raised questions about tree-planting in the scheme.
City conservation off icer Howard Dickenson told the board he believed the development would provide an appropriate setting for the historic features in the area.
'We did not like the scheme when it first came in,' he admitted. 'Chester was a major canal centre and this puts it back on the map.'
Cllr Rudd argued a decision should be deferred to enable further consideration on proposals for the Bluebird Garage site and for plans for trees and landscaping to be looked at by the community tree group.
Cllr David Hull (Lib Dem, Hoole Groves) said he would be unhappy if the proposed affordable homes were limited to one area of the development, to which Cllr Rudd agreed.
Cllr Joan Fairhurst (Lib Dem, Kelsall) sought an assurance that community safety issues had been dealt with.
A support for deferral came from Cllr David Challen (Lab, Lache Park) who believed that each of the buildings in the development should be given detailed consideration.
Pointing out that each of the different aspects of the Northgate Development had been considered separately by the planning board, he said each element of this plan should be looked at closely and added: 'I caution against giving a blanket approval.'
Conservative planning spokesman Cllr Andrew Storrar (Saughall) described the amended plans as 'a terrif ic improvement' but said he was concerned there would only be one access to the development, from Raymond Street.
Referring to the mix of residential, commercial and restaurant sites in the development, he added: 'I accept another access may be diff icult, but it should be looked at.'
Principal planning off icer Mark Cawood agreed that tree-planting and landscaping could be considered and indicated that the affordable homes would be at two different locations in the development.
There would be public access throughout the development, he said, and in addition to the Raymond Street access a proposed pedestrian and cycle access could also be used in an emergency. The board agreed a decision on the scheme should be deferred.