A HOUSING developer is fighting a decision to refuse 26 houses on a much-loved greenfield site in Kendal.

Oakmere Homes Ltd requested an inquiry following a refusal by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee.

The company’s amended plans for housing off Natland Mill Beck Lane were rejected for the third time at a meeting in March.

The inquiry will sit from July 23 for four days, headed by planning inspector Victoria Lucas, appointed by the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate.

The appeal has been lodged by Kate Bellwood, a planning agent representing the Natland-based property developer.

She said the scheme offered a range of “social, economic and environmental” benefits.

In documents submitted to SLDC, Ms Bellwood wrote: “The appeal will provide a suite of documents to supplement their argument that the refusal reason is not justifiable and that the benefits do outweigh the minor changes to the lane character and impact on heritage assets.”

At the last hearing in March, SLDC officers recommended that the application be approved, but this was overturned by the committee who voted to reject.

One of the biggest concerns was that access to the new properties would be required along narrow Natland Mill Beck Lane off Burton Road near Asda.

Nearby residents described it as a “lovely, tranquil lane” which risked being turned into a “busy highway” if as many as 52 vehicles-a-day started using it.

The committee refused on the grounds that the permanent engineering operations needed to make Natland Mill Beck Lane safe would “harm the character and appearance” of the area.

The proposed housing scheme was strongly opposed by local residents with more than 150 objections.

However, none of the legal statutory consultees, including Cumbria County Council as highways authority, opposed the scheme.

There has been frustration that the site was not allocated for housing during a long-running council process to identify where the next generation of new homes might go. Instead, it has been classed as a “windfall” site.

Andrew Thomas, who has previously addressed the planning committee on behalf of local residents, said: “There have been three refusals by South Lakeland District Council and massive local opposition to these plans, including from residents, Kendal Town Council, Natland Parish Council, Friends of the Lake District and Kendal Civic Society.

“Natland Mill Beck Lane is a lovely, narrow, virtually traffic-free lane, which is well used by walkers and cyclists. Increasing traffic significantly on the lane, cutting a new section of road through a field, creating three passing places and a clutter of ‘give way’ and ‘priority’ signs will all have a serious and detrimental impact on the area’s visual appearance.”