CIVIC chiefs have denied Winchester city councillors were to blame over a planning defeat.

Last week the Chronicle reported that a planning inspector has overturned a decision made at committee by councillors in direct contradiction to advice given to them by their professional officers.

Mark Oakley has been allowed a development at Texas Drive, Oliver’s Battery.

It is the second such rebuff coming after student housing was allowed at Greenhill Road, Fulflood. Again the planning committee ignored officers’ advice to reject a scheme later overturned on appeal.

In a statement the council said: “Across 2016, 2017 and 2018 a total of 8,604 planning decisions were taken on behalf of Winchester City Council and South Downs National Park Authority. Of these, just 1.9 per cent went to appeal and of these appeals 60 per cent were dismissed.”

The council denied the councillors had been at fault: “All members have regular training and are aware of their statutory obligations in reaching planning judgements. The nature of planning means matters for and against permission can be finely balanced and every application is determined on its own merits.”

Former city councillor Ian Tait, a member of the planning committee, who voted in favour of the Texas scheme, told the Chronicle the committee “allowed the circumstances and background of the applicant to cloud their judgement.”