A TOTAL of 105 new homes can be built in Egremont, despite allegations over the true ownership of one of the two sites.

It was proposed that 90 properties be built on the Howbank Farm site, which lies just outside the town’s settlement boundary, and 15 dwellings at the former Orgill Infants School, which is within the boundary.

The application was put before members of Cumberland Council's planning committee, at a meeting in Allerdale House in Workington on Wednesday (March 13), because the proposed development was considered to be of strategic significance.

Planning officer Chris Harrison told members that the school was demolished in the late 1990s and the farm site development would have limited visual impact on the landscape.

He added that there was little or no risk of flooding at the sites but the application was recommended for refusal because part of the development lay outside the settlement boundary.

One member of the public, Amelia Smith, spoke at the meeting and said her "reasons are complex" for opposing the development. She said that she had challenged the ownership of the land in the courts but had been thwarted at every turn. She was advised by a council officer that this was not a planning issue but she replied: "It is morally wrong that you grant this settlement."

Councillor Michael McVeigh, from Egremont Town Council, said he and the council supported the development and, where the flood risk had previously existed, it had been eliminated.

Councillor Sam Pollen (Egremont, Labour), from Cumberland Council, also supported the proposal as did a lot of local residents, he said.

He said that there were no objections from either highways or the Environment Agency and the proposal would regenerate a brownfield site. He added: "We need to regenerate our town."

David Wright, from developer Gleeson Homes, told members that he was both the land director as well as an Egremont town councillor and said: "There are no homes that would be in a flood risk area."

He said the development would provide affordable homes, as well as redevelop a brownfield site and represented a £12million investment.

News and Star: The location of the developments in EgremontThe location of the developments in Egremont (Image: Cumberland Council planning portal)

Councillor Andrew Semple (Cockermouth South, Labour) agreed that the redevelopment of a brown field site and affordable homes were beneficial and pointed out that the farm site could be included in the council's emerging local plan.

Mr Harrison said that, in the adopted local plan the site was outside the boundary and added: "We need to consider it in terms of the national policy."

Jane Meek, the council's assistant director of thriving place and investment, said: "We have to look at all the planning evidence and other issues."

Councillor Robert Betton (Botcherby, Independent Group) said he felt uncomfortable voting on the proposal because there were potential issues with the land ownership.

But Ms Meek reminded him that it was not a planning issue and it was a "private matter" which would be dealt with at another place.

Councillor Tony Markley (Solway Coast, Conservative) said there was a definite need for housing in Cumberland and added: "I am not happy to refuse this. I propose we need more information on the flood issues."

And councillor John Mallinson (Houghton and Irthington, Conservative) said that, while he would be happy to approve the application, he was also prepared to defer the matter so they were sure that was suitable flood alleviation in the area.

When a proposal to approve the application, subject to a number of conditions, the committee voted in favour of approval.