A LEADING developer has claimed that approval for much-needed housing was delayed by “misinformed and inflammatory” remarks made by critics of the scheme.

Bosses at Pennyfarthing Homes have spoken out after winning a two-year battle to gain consent to build more than 40 homes on former green belt land at Milford on Sea.

As reported in the Daily Echo, a government-appointed planning inspector has quashed a decision taken by New Forest District Council and approved the scheme.

Daily Echo:

Pennyfarthing’s decision to target the site proved highly controversial.

An action group called School Lane and Manor Road (SLAM) was formed to fight the proposal to build 42 homes on farmland near Milford Primary School.

Hampshire wildlife expert Chris Packham, who lives in the Forest, also spoke out against the proposal, which sparked more than 200 objections.

The application was submitted in 2017 and rejected last July after district councillors went against the advice of the authority’s planning officers.

But the decision was overturned earlier this month following a public inquiry held after Pennyfarthing lodged an appeal.

Planning inspector Alex Hutson, who chaired the inquiry, said the council’s “unreasonable behaviour” had delayed a development it should have approved.

Without specifying a figure Mr Hutson ruled that the council should pay some of Pennyfarthing’s costs.

Daily Echo:

Ben Arnold, the company’s land and planning manager, stressed that 19 of the new properties would be affordable homes.

Referring to the time taken to secure consent for the scheme he added: “It is unfortunate these delays have resulted in unnecessary costs and lost time.

“While we appreciate that all parties should have a voice, a lot of the rhetoric surrounding this application has been misinformed and inflammatory.

“However, we hope that this result has shown the proposal will maximize affordable housing and community benefits.”

But a SLAM spokesman described the inspector’s decision as “hugely disappointing”, claiming he had ignored the concerns of Milford residents.

Citing the “token number” of affordable homes he said most of the new properties would be far beyond the financial reach of local people.