AN APPLICATION to build 300 homes on Starvehall Farm has been approved.
More than 50 residents packed the public gallery as planning committee councillors met to debate the plans at the Municipal Offices last night.
The chamber was divided on whether or not the proposals for Prestbury, which also include a link road, should be approved.
But Cheltenham Borough Council officers advised the members keen to oppose the plans that the authority would struggle to defend such a decision if the application was taken to appeal.
A number of councillors moved to refuse the controversial scheme but the bid was defeated by ten votes to four and the plans were passed as a result.
The planning application, submitted by Gloucestershire County Council, was initially deferred last November when the applicant went away and tweaked the plans.
Campaigner Bob Stark spoke against the scheme.
He said: "We welcome the changes to this application but two issues remain: The loss of recreation land and the continued inclusion of the so called link road."
He added: "The proposals make it quite clear that the link road intends to be a bypass, not the leafy lane shown in the plans."
During the two and a half hour discussion Councillor Bernard Fisher (Swindon Village, LD) summed up the potential danger of refusing the application.
He said: "If we decide to reject this scheme tonight it could involve giving the people of Cheltenham a large bill to fight it at appeal.
"The county council might go away and think about it but they will come back. To think that we will get nothing built on Starvehall Farm is wrong."
Mr Stark added today: "Last night's approval of this predatory development is most disappointing since it highlighted that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is indeed a "developer's charter" instructing local councils that the default decision is to find in favour of development applications.
"The protection supposedly offered to local communities by the Localism Bill is worthless in the face of the direction mandated by the NPPF
"We recognise that Prestbury must take its fair share of new housing, but it is wrong that this development removes 11 Acres of land used permissively for recreation for 20 years and includes a North South Cheltenham bypass (known as the link road).
"As I said last night 'Who in their right mind would build a bypass through the middle of a densely packed new housing estate - the answer is people who will not have to live there!'."
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