FORMER borough councillors battled to save a green lung for Ellesmere Port.
They failed by just one vote to defeat outline plans for up to 120 new homes near the town centre.
Housebuilder Barkin Developments Ltd submitted the scheme on land adjacent to West Cheshire College on Regent Street.
The mix of two, three and four-bedroom terraced, semi and detached homes, 25% of which are to be affordable, will be close to the college’s landmark rotunda campus.
The plans were called in to Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee, meeting in Chester, by Grange ward councillor Tony Sherlock (Lab) due to local concern.
Councillors grappled with a 34-page report which recommended the application be approved, though it would be ‘a significant departure’ from the Local Plan.
Earlier plans had been redesigned and a boulevard would provide a vista toward the college entrance.
For the developer, agent Andrew Teage told councillors the company was committed to delivering the development within five years, bringing considerable investment to the town.
Cllr Sherlock argued the open space had been valued as a ‘green lung’ by people coming into the town along Sutton Way.
The academy had darkened the other side of the road, he believed, ‘and this development will have the same adverse effect on the other side of the road’.
Former Ellesmere Port and Neston borough councillors had believed the land should be part of an education park drawing together the academy and college.
“I believe the wisdom of Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council was correct,” said Cllr Sherlock, asking the committee to reject the application.
Chairman Cllr Myles Hogg (Con) pointed out the meeting had to decide the application before it on planning grounds ‘but I hear the views of Cllr Sherlock and his residents’.
Offering ‘long-standing personal experience’, Cllr Keith Butcher (Lab, Ledsham and Manor) believed a view there would be no traffic issues was ‘unbelievable’.
Cllr Angela Claydon (Lab) moved refusal but was defeated on a 4-5 vote.
Deputy chairman and Chester councillor Jill Houlbrook (Con) moved permission and this was agreed on a 5-4 vote.