Concerns a new 24-home development would exacerbate traffic issues in a village led councillors to reject a planning application.

Plans to build the homes on land at Midtown Farm in Beckermet had been recommended for approval by Copeland Council's planning officers, subject to a legal agreement to ensure four of the homes would be sold at 80 per cent of their market value and the developer would contribute £16,300 towards traffic-calming measures.

But the council's planning panel refused the application yesterday afternoon, primarily due to concerns which had been raised by local residents over traffic issues at the access from Hunter Rise and in Morass Road.

The vote finished with five for and five against, with panel chair Joan Hully then having the casting vote against the proposals.

She said: "It was a very fine balance but I am not convinced on the traffic measures."

Nick Hayhurst, the council's planning and place manager, suggested seeking more information on the proposed measures from Cumbria County Council's highways department before the plans will be considered by the panel again due to their decision going against the recommendation.

The county council had initially objected to the development but reversed that once amendments were made, subject to conditions including details of the visibility splays and access.

They said there was no evidence of accident hotspots in the village, but residents told the panel that incidents went unreported and it was "only a matter of time" before a life-threatening incident.

Beckermet with Thornhill parish council also highlighted the roads as needing improvement.

Objector Sarah Lewis said: "We believe this proposed development's access via Hunter Rise and the junction onto Morass Road is neither safe nor accessible and is in fact dangerous."

Bob Metcalfe, the agent for the application, said a comprehensive traffic assessment had been carried out on behalf of the applicant and, once additional information had been provided to the highways authority, they had been satisfied.

Increased flood risk in the village was also raised as a concern by villagers, as well as the lack of services in Beckermet and a decision to relocate a Victorian-era observatory on the site.