NEW flats can be built on the side of a block of shops in Wharton despite concerns the plans go against Winsford’s neighbourhood plan.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans for three one-bedroom apartments next to Nun House Vets, in Ribble Avenue, on Tuesday night.

The plans were called in for debate by Cllr Jo Moorcroft, Labour CWAC member for Gravel, who insisted the Nun House Estate’s ‘spacious surroundings’ were supposed to be protected by the neighbourhood plan – approved by Winsford’s residents in a referendum back in 2014.

“This application is purely speculative and would be a detrimental overdevelopment of the site,” she told the committee.

“The people of Winsford voted on what they wanted to see in their town in terms of development sites up to 2030.

“That vote gave resident the reassurance that in respect of future developments, there was openness, transparency and clarity.

“I fear that to approve this application could set a precedent that could not be defended anywhere in our borough.”

A number of objections were also sent into CWAC from neighbouring residents concerned about the flats overlooking their property and causing a loss of light.

However, officers had recommended the plans for approval and insisted they fit into Winsford’s neighbourhood plan, and the committee agreed.

Cllr Tommy Blackmore, Labour CWAC member for Over and Verdin, said: “The neighbourhood plan gives residential in certain areas the go-ahead.

“It stops it where it is not needed and where it is overdevelopment, but this site is not overdevelopment.”

Cllr Gina Lewis, Labour CWAC member for Over and Verdin, agreed that the scheme fits in with Winsford’s neighbourhood plan by ‘integrating’ with the rest of the town – and suggested that other approved plans in Winsford had set a precedent for this type of development.

The need for one-bedroom apartments in the borough was also stressed by councillors, while Conservative Cllr Lynn Gibbon praised the ‘very sympathetically done’ design.

It is the second time that the interpretation of Winsford’s neighbourhood plan has been called into question this year.

In March, Winsford Labour group insisted the decision to approve plans for up to 78 homes on the Greedy Pig site should be overturned as the plan earmarked the site for a mix of housing and new businesses.

At the meeting where that decision was made, town councillor David Ellis urged the committee to reject the plans.

But officers confirmed no interest had been followed up by businesses looking to develop the site, while Cllr Blackmore admitted the land was ‘derelict for a number of years’ before voting for the scheme.