The outline plan by Kington couple Martin and Jayne Turner to develop a meadow between Headbrook and the river Arrow in the town was first approved, against officers’ recommendation, in December 2018.
But it was then held up by the so-called moratorium on development in much of the county due to the likely nutrient impact of new houses on protected watercourses.
Then last autumn the Turners were told that their proposal could progress if they bought “phosphate credits” under a new county scheme intended to unblock the nutrient impasse.
However, after Mr Turner paid what he called the “large” sum of over £60,000, planners again recommended refusing the proposal, citing ecological and landscape harm to the riverside spot.
During a planning committee meeting last Wednesday (August 16), he expressed puzzlement that planners also gave the lack of a so-called section 106 agreement among their reasons for recommending refusal, “as this has been sitting in the legal department’s office since April”.
This set contributions to be paid to local schools and to Hereford hospital, for sustainable transport development and for local outdoor sports facilities, and a commitment to sell 35 per cent of the houses at an affordable rate.
Local ward member Coun Terry James said he was “deeply concerned” that the decision was having to be retaken.
“It is outside the flood plain, it is sustainable as far as access is concerned,” he said. “If this goes to appeal, we will be in an impossible position.”
Coun Bruce Baker said he had voted for the original approval and would do so again, adding: “We would be unlikely to find a more suitable spot for development in Kington.”
Coun Richard Thomas said there is “a heck of a shortage of houses for local people” in the town, adding: “It doesn’t look good for planners to come back for a second bite at this.”
But Coun Stef Simmons said: “The meadow landscape, and the historic setting, will be irreversibly changed by this development. We need to protect areas that can help with flood attenuation.”
In the end, the committee voted ten to two to approve the plan.
A further application setting out the details of the housing and other elements will still have to be submitted and approved.