A CONTROVERSIAL housing scheme which would see nearly 400 homes built in Whitehaven has been rejected.

Councillors on Copeland’s planning panel went against their own officers’ advice and refused the application for 370 houses on land at Harras Moor. A final decision on the plans, put forward by Homes England, will be made at the council’s next planning meeting.

The homes would be built on 23 hectares of land surrounded by the Highlands, Hillcrest and Red Lonning housing estates.Vehicle access would be via Harras Road and Caldbeck Road.

A number of worried residents spoke in opposition to the scheme at Copeland Council’s planning meeting yesterday.

Mike Gracey, from Harras Road, said the road struggled to cope already and the increased traffic flow from the development would be “unthinkable”. “The infrastructure is totally inadequate for this amount of traffic,” he said.

Mr Gracey also raised concerns over the validity of a traffic survey submitted with the application, which had been carried out after school finishing times.

Also concerned was resident, Liz Crewshank. She said: “There’s no benefit for the local community. There’s more pressure on school spaces, more pressure on hospitals, more pressure on residents trying to get to their homes, more pressure on the drainage system.

“There’s increased traffic. There’s already chaos on Caldbeck Road and Red Lonning around school times. It needs improved as it is. Is there really a need for this development on this scale?”

However, Peter Shannon, agent for the developer said the proposed development was appropriate in location and scale, and would offer significant benefits to the community of Whitehaven.

Members voted 6-2 to refuse the application. Nick Hayhurst, planning development manager, said councillors were “being swayed by comments from the public” and asked them to give reasons for their decision. Traffic and safety issues were cited as reasons for the refusal.

Councillor Jackie Bowman said: “I don’t feel safe in my own mind voting for something that could end in a tragedy.”

Councillor Brian O’Kane added: “I am not against the development. I’m concerned solely by the safety of the entrance and the exits and the possibility of future accidents and fatalities.”