A CONTROVERSIAL housing scheme has been thrown out – because it would increase the number of families at risk if a major incident occurred at Fawley refinery.

A Government-appointed planning inspector has upheld a decision taken by New Forest District Council, which rejected proposals to build 20 homes on a greenfield site off Rollestone Road, Holbury.

Christopher Anstey said the land was inside the officially designated hazard zone that surrounded the refinery.

He added: “The proposal would increase the number of people at risk from a major accident at the complex by about 50. Most would be present overnight, with a significant proportion also likely to be at home during the day.

“It is accepted that the risk of a major incident is relatively low.

“However, locating new housing in the area likely to be affected makes little sense in planning terms. Other sites outside the sphere of this major hazard will not suffer the same consequences if an accident occurs.”

The district council rejected the original application last November, even though the proposal included a large amount of affordable housing. The authority had received 19 letters of objection from local residents, who said the scheme amounted to over-development and would result in the “harmful urbanisation” of the area.

Fawley Parish Council also attacked the potential loss of open space.

Other objectors included the Health and Safety Executive, which criticised plans to build a high-density housing scheme so close to the refinery.

A report to district councillors said: “The land forms part of an area of countryside that is critical to maintaining a degree of openness between Holbury to the north and Blackfield to the south.

“Protecting sites on the edge of built-up areas is considered particularly important if the character of the countryside is to be maintained.

The applicant, Elizabeth Young, lodged an appeal but Mr Anstey has upheld the council’s ruling.