Two councillors walked out in anger ahead of a vote to approve plans for 400 houses near Ripley.
The application, put forward by Hallam Land Management, will see the homes built on farmland off Peasehill Road, close to The Ripley Academy.
An application for 349 homes, submitted by the same firm, was previously granted permission on the site – known as Coppice Farm.
However, now the firm has applied for 400 homes to be built after redrawing the site’s boundaries and changing the layout of the proposed houses.
In the lead up to the vote on Monday, December 17, which saw the plans approved, Amber Valley planning board members and council staff argued about debate procedure.
An agent for the applicant called this a ‘car crash’.
Coun Fay Atkinson, Labour, proposed a motion to defer the application so that all members could attend a site visit and to review access issues.
This was rejected by a vote of six to five.
Committee chairman, Conservative, Coun Norman Bull, made the deciding vote.
A motion was then pitched to simply defer the application for a site visit, with Labour’s Coun Brian Lyttle stating ‘we are trying to let you out of jail here’.
This was also rejected by six votes to five.
It was this which saw ward member and opposition leader Coun Chris Emmas-Williams, who is not a member of the planning board, walk out of the council chamber.
As he left he said ‘you’re a joke, Ron’ directing his comment at county councillor for the ward and vice chairman of the planning committee, Conservative Coun Ron Ashton.
Coun Ashton then proposed that the application should be accepted, in line with recommendations from Amber Valley Borough Council planning officers.
This caused Coun Lyttle, who is a member of the planning board, to put on his coat and leave the chamber, stating ‘good night and merry Christmas’.
The application was then approved by six votes for to four abstentions.
As part of the application the developer has been asked to cough up £1.3 million for an extra 80 places at nearby Waingroves Primary School, which will help fund the building of new classrooms.
It will also pay £76,500 for the development of Codnor Recreation Ground football pitch and a changing facility.
Among the housing on site are 40 affordable homes, with the developers paying for a further 20 to be built elsewhere in the borough.
Overall, thes 60 homes represents 15 per cent of approved housing, half of the amount (30 per cent) which the borough council recommends.
An agent for the developers told the meeting that 30 per cent would not be possible and make the project unviable due to the cost of infrastructure for the site – £8.8 million.
Among the objections from residents and local councillors were fears that the additional homes would put too much pressure on the area’s schools, roads and health services.
Ripley town councillor David Williams told the meeting: “This application should be resisted. It is a substantial increase in housing, and will greatly affect local residents.
He said that the lack of an objection from the county council highways team ‘flew in the face of the daily experiences of local residents’.
Fellow town councillor, Steve Freeborn, said that a recently completed housing development near the site has incurred severe issues with drainage and flooding.
Coun Freeborn said that two houses had “flood water lapping at their French windows” as a result.
He urged councillors “not to repeat the same mistakes as the site around the corner of the hill”.
Borough councillor Emmas-Williams, decried the shortfall in affordable housing and previous proposals to spend more money on the Codnor Recreation Ground.
He said that “if they can’t meet our requirements, they [the developers] should do elsewhere for planning permission”.
Fellow Labour member, Coun Isobel Harry, said: “The road past this site is already a rat-run, it is impossible to drive through Waingroves without pulling in to let traffic proceed up the street.”
She asked what the residents of Waingroves had to gain from the application and feared the increase in vehicles and said “the village will suffer greatly for yet another development”.
An agent for the developer said that the firm was keen to work with the council and residents to push forward this project and others.
He said that this application had more open space than the previous iteration, including a multi-use games area, that local roads would not be affected and that the first houses should be built by the end of 2019.
Rae Gee, principal planning officer for the authority, said that the developers had agreed to “act” on any approval for the project within a shorter time scale – two years instead of three.