A field in Langland is a big step closer to making way for housing after Swansea councillors voted in favour of the divisive scheme.
Members of the planning committee disagreed strongly about the merits or otherwise of the 31-home application off Higher Lane, which had prompted nearly 1,900 objections.
Cllr Richard Lewis said he felt the council had, over the years, “done the Gower AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) proud”.
However, he added: “But I see this as a step in the wrong direction. I think this will be the start of the end of the Gower AONB.”
The development comprises 16 affordable properties, including six bungalows. These will be a mix of shared ownership and below market rental.
The other 15 houses are to be sold on the open market to people with a proven local connection.
Other councillors argued that Gower, and the Oystermouth ward in which the Higher Lane field is located, were very short of affordable homes.
Cllr Des Thomas, who represents West Cross, said more than 90% of people attending his surgeries needed suitable housing.
He also suggested that planning applications in the Gower and Oystermouth areas “seem to raise the same objections from existing residents”.
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He said: “We have got to remember that all the houses in that vicinity were on green fields at one time.”
Cllr Will Evans said he could see no planning reasons why the application should be refused.
The field in question has previously been earmarked for housing under Swansea’s new local development plan. It is one of six “local needs exception sites” in Gower aimed at giving local people or those on low incomes a chance of remaining in an expensive area.
Objector Fiona Power and Oystermouth councillor Myles Langstone addressed the committee, claiming that planning officers had not complied with some of the council’s own policies.
They also felt the landscape and visual impact assessment (LVIA), submitted on behalf of applicants Edenstone Homes and Coastal Housing, was flawed.
Miss Power, whose property overlooks the field and the sea beyond, said: “This development will completely destroy this aspect, and the LVIA completely dismisses this.”
Planning agent Jason Evans, on behalf of the applicants, said typographical errors in the LVIA had been corrected.
“However, they have no bearing on the agreed methodology or the conclusions,” he said.
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A council officer said colleagues had not ignored planning policies.
The committee voted in favour of the officers’ recommendation of approval by eight votes to four.
But the Welsh Government will have the final say by either authorising the committee’s decision or making a determination after formally calling the application in.
Speaking after the meeting, a spokeswoman for campaigners against the development said they were all saddened by the outcome of the vote.
“However, there are very valid reasons for the Welsh Assembly to call this application in, and they have already received over 100 requests to do so,” she said.
“Thank you to each and every one of you that has supported this (campaign) so far. We’re not giving up.”
Coastal Housing and Edenstone Homes said they were very pleased with the vote.
Tim Smale, planning director at Edenstone Homes, said: “It has been a lengthy process since the site was originally allocated for development, but working with our partners Coastal Housing and the local planning authority, we have found a solution which will meet the housing needs of local people and responds to its setting within this area outstanding natural beauty.”