AN apartment block in Northwich town centre is just too tall, councillors were told last night.
Planners also say there is not enough affordable housing earmarked in Bell Developments' application to build 54 apartments on wasteland by the River Dane in the town centre.
The plans were due to go before Vale Royal Borough Council's planning committee as the Chronicle went to press, and were expected to be refused.
A report to members said any application for the site, between Dane House and the river on Chester Way, should be a three-storey, mixed-use development. It adds that the plan falls 'significantly short' of the council's aims for affordable housing - developers say there will be 20% affordable homes, Vale Royal wants 30%.
Bell wants to build 54 one and two-bedroomed flats in four blocks ranging from three to five-storeys high.
Vale Royal's conservation officer said it was a 'bold, visionary scheme that represents a changing approach to residential development in the regenerating town centre', though Cheshire County Council's planning officers called it 'uninspiring' and the height 'excessive in this location'.
Herbert Manley, a member of the Northwich Regeneration Team, called for the plans to be refused and said: 'It's a site ripe for development. We don't have any objection to houses going there because we want to get more people living in the town centre and working in the town centre.
'But once one five-storey development goes up, there will be others. There are already some five-storey retirement flats at the bottom of Castle Hill,
but they don't stand out because you have the hill behind them. These would be in the town centre and would be clearly visible.'
He also said Bell should meet the Vale Royal Local Plan's requirements to provide 30% affordable housing. He said: 'We need to ensure we have the right mix of people in the area to fill the jobs that are available.
'It's not just my personal opinion - we have been through a public inquiry, everyone has had their say and we would expect developers to adhere to it.'
Bell has offered to make a contribution of 4% of the total development costs towards the North-wich Vision project, which falls short of the council's desired 5%. Vale Royal said sufficient justification had not been put forward to warrant this lower amount.