COUNCIL chiefs have expressed disappointment after a Government inspector approved a controversial planning application.
Last week we reported how Cuddington-based Anaconda Investments won an appeal to build six flats and eight three-storey homes on land between Church Lane and Greenwood Close, off Northwich Road in Weaverham, months after planners threw the proposals out.
There was some criticism of the planning committee, with local councillors saying the application had been 'badly handled'.
But Cllr Albert Bailey, chairman of the planning committee, said: 'I am disappointed the committee's decision to refuse the application was overturned at appeal.
'The committee refused the application because the development did not comply with the council's policies in relation to housing land supply and public open space. My colleagues and I on the committee are convinced these two issues carried sufficient weight to refuse the planning application.'
He said the appeal overturned the decision for a number of reasons.
The inspector approved a revamped plan for the development, changed following the planning committee's earlier rejection, and because Anaconda had proposed a Section 106 Agreement, removing the council's argument for refusing the application on the grounds of lack of public open space through the provision of cash to improve open space and play facilities in the village.
Council bosses say they are particularly unhappy that the council's Local Plan, its policy on housing land supply currently being drawn up, was 'ignored' by the inspector. Cllr Bailey said: 'This policy is being progressed through the development of the 2006-2016 Local Plan, which has been consulted on and is to be tested at an inquiry later this month.
'The inspector gave little weight to this policy, which we are very disappointed about because it was the basis for our decision.'
Council chiefs say the Local Plan for 2006-2016 should be adopted by next June, giving planners a greater say about what could be built where.
But that will come too late for neighbours against the development.
A spokesman for the Church Lane, Greenwood Close, Wallerscote Road and Northwich Road Residents' Association said: 'Given the strength of feeling against the development in Weaverham it was hoped the borough council would have been able to defend its position more effectively.'