A row is rumbling on in Grimsargh after villagers were left dismayed when plans for 12 homes were thrown out.
An application from United Utilities to build the homes on land off Preston Road in the village was rejected, because of fears of a lack of affordable housing.
Putting up big new large houses is going to draw people in, as opposed to giving them to localsCoun Brian Rollo
But Rural East councillor Neil Cartwright described the decision as “bizarre” and said the scheme, which could have secured the future of a wetland nature area, was “win win”.
He said the application had been supported by most of the village, and said money had been offered to build affordable homes elsewhere in Preston.
He said: “The scheme was win win because it got the reservoirs preserved, it got the community heavily involved, and also the council gets a pot of money which they can use as they decide fit on affordable housing.”
Andy Small, one of the wetlands volunteers and species recorders, said supporters of the site were “devastated” by the decision. If approved, the plans would have seen the site of three former reservoirs being handed over to the parish council.
Mr Small said: “This was a unique opportunity to protect a oasis that so many migratory birds use as a stop-over on their long migrations with it regularly having over 600 birds roosting at any one time, as well as being a nesting site for numerous protected listed species.
“All sides had come together, Grimsargh Parish Council and United Utilities had formulated a plan that had been presented to the people of Grimsargh at special presentation meetings, and had received the backing of most of the village.”
The plans had proposed a contribution for off-site affordable housing, but the committee deemed the applicant “failed to robustly justify the provision of a financial contribution towards off-site affordable housing in lieu of on-site provision.” Coun Brian Rollo, chairman of the planning committee who had the casting vote, said: “What the main concern is, is the young people in places like Grimsargh who are growing up who want to live there, and if all we’ve got is houses they can never afford then we can’t help them. Putting up big new large houses is going to draw people in, as opposed to giving them to locals.”