A DEVELOPER has been given approval to build up to 40 homes by the skin of his teeth – despite strong opposition from residents and councillors.

Roland Finney, from Winsford, wants to redevelop Grange Yard – close to Winsford Academy, plus Grange Community and High Street primary schools.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee had deferred the item at last month’s meeting so a highways officer could answer members’ concerns, but the scheme was approved by six to five at Tuesday’s return meeting.

Cllr Michael Baynham, Conservative member for Winsford Over and Verdin, maintained his opposition to the plans – stating that 3,500 homes were already being built in the town.

He said: “After watching the webcast of the last planning committee it was clear to me that the committee had its hands tied in determining what planning rules could be used to refuse this application, even though it was also voted on not to approve this application at that stage.

“Clearly the local knowledge, the comments of those who voted against the approval, and all of the local residents who objected to the development could not be crystallised into an appropriate grounds for refusal.

“A minimum of 1,700 children attend those schools and the resultant traffic chaos that ensues at drop off and pick up time in Grange Lane and the A54 through Winsford is beyond belief.”

Winsford members on the planning committee agreed with Cllr Baynham, with Labour member Cllr Don Beckett insisting the land is ‘obviously a development site’.

Cllr Tom Blackmore, Labour member for Winsford Over and Verdin, added: “It’s a brownfield site, but I think it’s an overdevelopment with that number of flats in such a small area and the amount of traffic that it is going to generate.”

A 93-strong petition had been sent to CWAC in opposition to the plans, but officers supported the plans before both meetings.

Paul Parry, from CWAC’s highways team, insisted concerns about the impact on roads were limited.

“The key point is that it is a brownfield industrial site, and as such could generate a similar scale of movements, if not more,” he said.

“On that basis, there’s no real significant impact over and above what they could be doing with that site tomorrow.

“We appreciate it’s school time, and it can conflict with that, but so would industrial use.

“In terms of the overall impact on the junction and the A54 itself – it’s marginal at best.”

Cllr Brian Jones, Labour member for Whitby, added: “The site as we have seen it is an eyesore, a terrible eyesore. This development will enhance the site.”

Mr Finney told the committee that his development – made up of eight one-bedroom flats, 16 two-bedroom apartments, and 16 three-bedroom houses – would be aimed at first time buyers.

More detailed plans will be put forward in a reserved matters application for a future planning committee to consider.