Councillors have rejected plans for a controversial housing application in Andover over concerns about its impact on the local area.

Test Valley Borough Council’s Northern Area Planning Committee voted against granting planning permission to a proposed house to the rear of 23, The Avenue, voicing objections to its design, impact on trees, and the potential for setting a precedent for further applications of this kind.

Following debate on the plans, they were rejected by nine votes to three.

Plans were submitted in September 2019, which was to be built in the back garden of 23, The Avenue. The new house would have five bedrooms and a three car carport, and be accessed via a shared driveway with a neighbouring bungalow, Ambleside.

Officers had recommended the plans for approval, following work over the previous year to refine the proposals.

The plans raised 13 objections from the local community, who said that the designs were “out of keeping” with the area. One objection, from Peter Gibson, said that the plans were “severely detrimental” to The Avenue and Croye Close, which he said were “two of the most prestigious roads in the town”.

One of the residents who would live directly adjacent to the new house, Haydn Jellard, spoke against the plans at the meeting, saying that a report prepared by the council was “disappointing”, particularly in regard to the Residential Areas of Special Character (RASC) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

He said: “It is disappointing that the report makes no mention of the detailed design principles set out about the SPD. Had the systematic assessment of the proposals been undertaken against the SPD, it’s hard to understand how recommendation of approval could have been made.

“Plot size is identified in the SPD as a key element enabling all the remaining development principles to be achieved. In seeking to justify your proposal, your officer considers the plot sizes of the application site in relation to Croye Close, which are included in a separate RASC. This comparison is not appropriate.

“Plot sizes must be considered within relation to the wider character area as properties on the edge of the RASC will always be vulnerable to development as they mark the transition from one area to another, resulting in the gradual erosion of the area.”

This assertion was disputed by Paul Appleby, the agent for the applicants, who said “it will have no real adverse impact” on the RASC, “and the report clearly concludes this criteria has been met”. The report itself said the new divided plot “would not be significantly smaller than those within the immediate vicinity”.

Councillor Zilliah Brooks, who lives on The Avenue, shared concerns about the design, as well as its impacts on the environment.

She said: “This application, for this dwelling, will be situated in somebody’s back garden so it will be surrounded by other houses so will have no frontage which is completely different to the outlay. It is not similar to any other buildings in the area of Special Character.

“This dwelling will cover 60 per cent of the overall plot which will take away a huge area of green space which is currently enjoyed and appreciated by the residents who overlook this property.

“The Avenue has developed with low density dwellings and makes an important contribution to the character and appearance of the area. This proposal will see two large houses sitting on a small plot of land and this proposal is totally out of character with other properties in this residential area of special character.”

Cllr Tony Burley concurred with her concerns, saying that while he is “no expert in design… I do not think it reflects the character of the area or the building styles. I would go further to say it conflicts with policy E1, of high quality development in the borough.”

This was a view shared by Cllr Christopher Ecclestone, who said that the planned house was “mediocre.”

He said: “It looks mediocre, it’s crowded, and I must refer back to Ambleside which I believe is mediocre. We are piling mediocre on mediocre.”

He added that he was worried about setting a precedent for further subdivision of plots within the RASC.

Test Valley Borough Council’s chief planning officer said that councillors should not interpret the RASC as “an embargo on future development”.

He said: “There are a variety of building styles and if you look at the Andover RASC appraisal it recognises there has been background development. In fact, there has been significant background development adjacent to the site.”

A vote was then held on recommending the plans for approval, with Cllrs Carl Borg-Neal, Chris Donnelly and Nick Lodge voting in favour. However, the other nine members of the committee voted against this motion.

A motion on rejecting the plans was then proposed, and passed without dissent.