A Knaresborough councillor has come under fire for his refusal to vote at a planning meeting which saw the biggest planning application Knaresborough has ever seen put forward for approval.
Coun Phil Ireland (Con, Knaresborough King James) has been critisised by Knaresborough Lib Dems after he abstained from a vote which saw plans for 600 houses at Manse Farm being passed to the head of planning services for approval.
Coun Bill Hoult (Lib Dem, Knaresborough King James) said: “I am not pleased with Phil Ireland, the confusing thing is that he spoke against it throughout the meeting.”
Eight committee members voted in favour of passing the application for the 42 hectare site to be approved by the head of planning services, with seven councillors voting against.
Had Coun Ireland voted against the plans the chair, Coun Stuart Martin (Con, Ripon Minster), vote for the plans would have been the deciding vote.
Knaresborough Town Coun Andrew Willoughby (Lib Dem) said: “The decision to approve the planning permission for 600 houses at Manse Farm was very disappointing.
“But the big disappointment is that one Knaresborough councillor on the committee chose not to vote against the proposal.”
Coun Ireland said: “I came to the conclusion that I could not support the officers recommendation to defer for approval. I also felt that I could not expose the council and Knaresborough tax-payers to the risk of substantial costs of an appeal. Therefore I decided to abstain on both votes.”
The site will include a neighbourhood centre with retail units, 2.5 hectares of employment land and 600 houses, 50 per cent of which will be affordable.
Land will be allocated for a primary school and rail halt and developers CEG are required to contribute over £3.5million to North Yorkshire County Council for education.
The only Conservative councillor to vote against the plans was Coun Jim Clark (Rossett) who has spoken out against early applications.
He said: “We have spent eight years on this local plan and it deserves to go through the democratic process.”
Coun Anthony Alton (Con, Claro) told the committee: “Local democracy has to come second, we have passed our draft local plan and the government are insisting due to our lack of housing supply.”
It is expected to be at least two years before work begins at the site, which will be accessed from two new roundabouts to be built on York Road.
Steve McBurney from CEG said: “We are keen to start delivering the much needed housing, including affordable housing for local people, and the business space to generate new jobs in a high quality scheme we can all be proud of.”