Moving a hedge was a step too far for planners who blocked an application to build four homes in a West Cumbria village.

The councillors on Allerdale Council's development panel had overridden a recommendation from officers to allow the building control manager to grant permission with conditions for plans from Wright Land & Property Ltd, on behalf of Mrs E Beaty, to develop a field opposite Blencogo Farm in Blencogo.

Councillor Janet Farebrother put forward a motion for refusal due to concerns about moving a hedge on the edge of the field nearly 10ft away from the road, which was deemed necessary for visibility at the access.

Outlining the motion, Simon Sharp, the council's building control manager, said: "The reason for refusal is the hedgerow to be lost to facilitate the access including the visibility splays has been identified as considered important to the local community, contributes positively to the rural character of the area and is of nature conservation value.

"Its loss would result in significant harm, contrary to policies S24, S32, S35 and DM17 of the Allerdale Local Plan (Part 1) 2014, and this harm is not outweighed by any benefits arising from the proposal."

Nine councillors voted in favour of the motion with three against.

The panel had heard from objectors who were worried about several aspects of the access.

Josephine Ewart, who lives opposite the site, said most objections could be cleared up by using the existing access to the field and requested councillors take part in a site visit.

She warned the access would “seriously affect” her and her neighbours and was concerned about the narrow road, flood risk and the planning officer’s request for visibility splays of 45 metres rather than the 60 metres Cumbria County Council’s highways department asked for.

Villager Adrian Cozens, who said he was a retired local authority highways engineer, felt the fact that the hedge was located on top of a bank meant even moving it back would not make the access safe enough.

He added: “Cutting the hedge away doesn’t help hugely with some of the visibility issues.

“Moving the hedge won’t solve the visibility splay because that bank remains.”

Parish councillor David Jeffries said Bromfield parish council feared the hedge would be removed entirely to meet the visibility splay needs.

Steve Long, the council’s senior planner, said the view taken was that it would be “unreasonable” to expect the developer to provide more than a 45-metre splay in a 30mph zone.

David Wright, who is the agent for the application, said: “The proposed access has been designed out of detailed consultation with both Cumbria Highways and the planning officers.

“We’ve got two aims in the main; we wanted to provide as much hedgerow as it was possible to retain, even if it was set back, and also to provide a safe access so it doesn’t cause any issues outside the site or within the site itself.”