GOVERNMENT inspectors will now decide the future of a piece of green space in Picket Piece.

David Wilson Homes and Wates Developments had lodged an application with Test Valley Borough Council to build 16 houses on land off Ox Drove.

An initial application approved in 2010 to build up to 530 homes in Picket Piece protected the proposed site as a junior sports pitch, but now the developers say this land is no longer needed.

They said a condition agreed by the borough council should be removed and have instead put forward an alternative application to offer a slice of green space behind an existing house which will not be built on.

But TVBC stated that the land “continues to serve a useful purpose”and refused the application in October last year.

Now the companies have taken their fight to the Planning Inspectorate, citing that no reason was given by the council for turning down the proposal.

An appeal statement said: “The refusal notice does not therefore comply with the statutory requirements of regulation.”

The developers have also said that in the pre-application stages TVBC said ‘if the principle of the loss of public open space can be justified’ then permission would be granted, and within its statement to the inspector it added: “we do not consider the land is currently public open space, therefore it is the appellants’ view that no loss will occur”.

A spokesperson for Wates Developments said: “The legal agreement related to the reservation of land for a junior sports pitch, which was part of the original planning approval of our Picket Piece development. The purpose of the reservation was to meet the potential sports need of wider development in Picket Piece beyond our 2011 planning approval.

“Since 2011 new open space provision and contributions to improve sports facilities across the wider area have been made by other developments around Picket Piece. In light of this, we believe there is no longer a need to continue reserving this land. An independent planning inspector at the forthcoming appeal will decided if the original legal agreement should be modified.

“While we awaited the outcome of this appeal, we have now re-submitted our planning application for 16 new homes.”

A council spokesperson said: “The reason for the refusal of this application was explained in an accompanying report given to the applicants at the time of the refusal of planning permission. While an administrative error meant the reason for refusal was not on the decision notice, applicants were fully aware of the council’s concerns about the proposed development as it was clearly clarified in depth in the report attached to the refusal, which is published at the same time as the decision was issued.”