A CONTROVERSIAL planning development for up to 44 houses adjacent to Gargrave cricket field has been turned down.

Members of Craven District Council’s planning committee, who voted against officers’ recommendation for approval, heard the development would require a 40 foot high mesh fence along part of the boundary to shield the houses from stray balls being hit from the crease.

Over 100 representations were made of which 88 objected to the plans, one of which was from the parish council.

Peter Ward, chairman of Gargrave Parish Council told the committee at the planning meeting on Monday that residents had “real” concerns because the site was outside the village boundary and that ball strike netting measuring 40 feet high would be an eyesore.

He also submitted photographs showing the cricket field and adjacent proposed housing site under water from the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

Ward councillor Simon Myers said it was the “wrong development in the wrong place” adding: “It seems strange that officers would consider that it was appropriate to weigh balance in favour of development outside village limits when there are sites identified that fulfil a need in our district.

“It strikes me that if this application went ahead it would put limits on sports activities in the village.”

Planning consultant Claire Bradley on behalf of objectors added: “The site is in open countryside There is no material consideration to outweigh harm.”

A representative for the applicants, KCS Development Ltd, said they had had continued dialogue with Craven District Council and that the harm from the scheme would be minimal.

He added that the site was classed as being in floodzone One, which was low risk, and said 40 per cent of the homes would be affordable and that the scheme was likely to increase participation in sport and add to the health and wellbeing in Craven.

Planning committe chairmal Councillor Alan Sutcliffe described the plans as “disastrous to the ambience of Gargrave”.

“The netting would be 43 metres long. People entering Gargrave would be confronted with an astronomical fence reminiscent to an army installation in a hostile country,” he said.

Moving a recommendation for refusal, Councillor Ian Thompson said: “It’s on the edge of a settlement and this is how it should remain.”

Seconder, Councillor Brian Shuttleworth, added: “The other thing about the netting is that it will be an excellent way of collecting litter. It will be a total eyesore.”

Committee members voted to refuse the application on the grounds that the site lay outside the development limits of the village.

Approval would also conflict with the Submission Draft Local Plan which sets out an overall strategy for the location of housing.

Spatial Strategy and Housing Growth 4 states the main built up area as the continuous built form of the settlement but excludes outdoor sports and recreation. The application site was not allocated for housing.