A MOTHER-of-five held back tears of joy as city councillors rejected an application for three new houses behind her home.

The proposal, on land rear of Plough Steep in Main Road, Itchen Abbas, caused controversy at Thursday’s (May 8) planning committee, but for Jo O’Connor it was a welcome sigh of relief.

She, along with other residents, feared that the development would be overbearing, out of keeping and unaffordable, with 50 rejection letters filed.

With tears in her eyes she said: “I’m very relieved and grateful that all the councillors listened to what we had to say and our point of view. I’m really happy.”

The site, which lies in the South Downs National Park area, is home to a Bronze Age burial mound which councillors feared would be ruined by the build.

They were also worried that Mrs O’Connor’s family home, a 300-year-old cottage, would be over-shadowed and isolated with three roads surrounding it.

Cllr Kim Gottlieb, Itchen Valley representative, urged the committee to reject the application.

He said: “To the parishes this application sends out all the wrong messages. If this is approved it sends out the message that we don’t care about sympathetically expanding our villages and are just cramming houses in wherever we can.”

Robin Buchanan, agent for the developer, Itchen Valley Homes, described how they intended to preserve the burial mound with a membrane covered by sand and soil.

They also said they were careful not to propose building within the area of archaeological concern, planning for it fall in the back garden of one of the properties, along with an area of ecological preservation home to grass snakes.

Councillors raised concerns about natural habitats, drainage, and steepness of the driveway.

Eight voted to reject the application, with just one voting to approve.

After the vote, committee chairman, Cllr Laurence Ruffell asked fellow councillors for the planning reasons for refusal. The committee spent some 40 minutes debating the issue.