COUNCILLORS have rejected a scheme to build new homes at the former Ollerton Nursery for the second time in 12 months.

Brighouse Homes wanted to build 17 houses on the greenbelt site – down from a 26-home development which Cheshire East Council rejected last May.

But at a northern planning committee meeting on Wednesday, members agreed with CEC’s officers that the development would harm the greenbelt.

Simon Noblet, the scheme’s architect, said the revised scheme would ‘sit comfortably within its surroundings’.

“The architectural style of the proposed development has been carefully considered in the context of the greenbelt,” he said.

“The innovative design approach emphasises new materials and glazing in a low profile which reflects its previous use.”

Asked if the site could be used for business again in future, Mr Noblet added: “I can only assume that the business would be trading had it been viable.”

Cllr Simon Saba, speaking on behalf of Ollerton with Marthall Parish Council, suggested that the new homes would harm the openness of the village’s greenbelt and stretch its infrastructure.

He told the committee: “Restoring the land – which is far from derelict – with a housing development does not outweigh the harm to the greenbelt.

“The parish has already provided 14 affordable homes, and recently nine dwellings have been completed – some of which are still available for sale.

“Development on this scale is neither desired nor needed in the parish.”

Twenty objections had been sent to CEC against the proposal, which included six affordable homes, while 17 letters of support were sent to the council.

Members were divided on whether the number of homes proposed would have a serious impact on the area, with Labour member Cllr Alift Harewood questioning the opposition to the scheme ‘in this time of housing crisis’.

Cllr Tony Dean, Conservative member for Knutsford, added: “What I was trying to do is justify in my own mind why Knutsford is going to get 950 houses built, all in the greenbelt, in the next few years – and yet a mere 17 properties just down the road are objected to.

“Logically it doesn’t seem right, however if the effect of those properties is sufficient on the openness to get us through appeal then I would support the officers’ recommendation on this one.”

Fellow Conservative member Cllr Liz Durham insisted the former nursery is now ‘a mess’, and questioned why neighbours would fight against ‘a very small development that’s going to benefit young families in the countryside’.

But Cllr Steven Edgar, Conservative member for Shavington, said he wished he had greenbelt land he could have protected in his own ward.

He added: “I can hear the argument, and as a councillor with over 1,700 houses being built in his ward it is a blip. It is the entrance driveway to one of the estates being built.

“But the principal of the green gap has to be upheld.”

Councillors rejected the scheme by nine votes to one, with two abstentions.