A ONCE hugely controversial development has had praise heaped on it after a new application was debated by councillors.

Winchester City Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme for land off Burnet Lane, Kings Worthy, which is commonly known as Top Field.

Developers sought permission to build 35 homes. along with associated infrastructure and open space.

It comes after a 25-home scheme was granted permission for the site in February last year, although that scheme was never implemented. Prior to that, it had proved controversial, with a 50-home development thrown out in March 2015.

All 35 homes in the current application have been designated as ‘affordable’. According to the plans, 25 of those homes (71%) would be rented, and would consist of four one-bedroom flats four two-bedroom flats, 11 two-bedroom houses and six three-bed houses.

The remaining 10 homes would be a mix of six two-bedroom houses and two three-bedroom houses for shared ownership, and two four-bed houses for Discounted Market Sale (DMS).

The scheme had received nearly 20 objections, citing flooding fears, an increase in traffic, a lack of school places, impact on wildlife and the view that it would be highly visible and harmful to the area.

However, no objectors spoke at the committee, and the scheme was widely praised. Cllr Ian Gordon, of Kings Worthy Parish Council, said: “The parish council supports this application. The development of this site in the way proposed will provide much needed affordable accommodation.”

Ward councillors Jackie Porter and Jane Rutter also spoke in favour, with Cllr Rutter temporarily stepping down from the committee to support the application.

She said: “Top Field has been controversial for many years. This is our opportunity to finally put to bed that problem. I think it’s going to be a great addition with some sorely needed affordable housing in the village.”

Before the application was unanimously approved, committee chairman Cllr Therese Evans said: “It is actually rare that we get a feel-good factor with an application.”

As previously reported, development at Top Field has not always been so widely supported, with plans to build up to 57 homes rejected four years ago.

The decision followed hostile opposition from residents against the plans by developer Drew Smith.

The main fears at the time centred around traffic congestion, the development being a blot on the landscape and and open space being stripped back.

In a separate application for a different piece of Top Field land, planners were accused of “riding roughshod” over local democracy as they approved 25 new homes.