COUNCILLORS have agreed to go against the recommendation of council officers in the first-ever decision made by the BCP Council planning committee.

Controversial plans to build a house in the garden of an existing Christchurch home were refused at the meeting on Thursday.

The decision was made despite a warning from one of its members that the council was “on a hiding to nothing” in terms of having to pay costs should it be appealed.

Planning officer Alison Underwood had recommended that the application build a two-storey home in the back garden of 20 Grove Road East be approved by councillors because the need for more housing outweighed concerns.

More than 20 people objected to the plans lodged by Martin White over fears about the lack of parking in the area and potential for existing homes to be overlooked.

Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, Carol Cronshaw, who lives next to the site in Portfield Close, said the scheme was not an example of an acceptable proposal.

“Good planning is about good neighbourliness,” she said. “This proposal is not a good neighbour, the impact and harm is to a negative degree.”

Ward councillor Mike Cox said he “appreciated” the need for more housing in the area but said the proposed two-storey, two-bedroom home was an example of “wanton neglect”.

Developer Mr White said the home would make “a contribution to the lack of housing in the area”.

“The site lends itself to infill development,” he told councillors. “The scale will not look out of place and will enhance the overall character of the area.”

Cllr Ann Stribley (Con, Parkstone) said she could see “no planning policy reasons” to refuse the application.

But her position was outvoted 10 to four in favour of refusing the scheme on grounds of the lack of additional parking provision and concerns about existing homes being overlooked.

Cllr Stribley warned fellow committee members that she thought the council would have the costs of any appeal awarded it against it and asked that her opposition to the approval be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.