PLANS that could have seen four houses built in a courtyard of a residential street have been refused after councillors said that there wasn't sufficient access for emergency services and turning vehicles.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's Development Control committee had been considering the application last week, which was recommended for approval by council officers.

It would have seen three one-bedroom houses over one floor and one one-bedroom house over two floors situated in Phoenix Court, off Alexandra Road, Brookvale, currently used by Rag Box Clothing.

It comes after plans to develop the same area were refused last year.

An appeal was dismissed, citing the effect of the design on the surrounding area, including the Brookvale Conservation Area.

This time, councillor Andy McCormick had raised issues over the amount of bins on the street on collection day causing problems with accessibility.

"You're going to have bins strewn up and down the access there, and that's going to cause problems," he said.

"It's just all quite a cramped, constrained site.

"I'm inclined to refuse this, I'm not happy with it at all."

He and Cllr Chris Tomblin agreed that access for fire engines and ambulances would be difficult to the site, which features a low archway from the street into the courtyard.

Cllr Nick Robinson said: "Regarding access to a fire engine, it was pointed out that a fire engine can't get near it. The difference at the moment between a residential unit and an industrial unit is that people don't have to sleep in an industrial unit.

"I think that makes a huge difference to emergency access."

Access to an existing garage was also a hotly-contested issue.

Matthew Francis spoke at the meeting on behalf of local residents, saying that it didn't "go far enough to protect the privacy of neighbours", whilst ward councillor for Brookvale and Kings Furlong, Cllr Michael Westbrook, said: "I would like to see a solution for the Phoenix Court site that is acceptable to both the residents and the applicant and would encourage any dialogue in that direction.

"The current application is unacceptable and I ask that the officer refuses planning permission."

Andy Partridge, agent for developers Faulkner West & Co, told the meeting that the plans had been "revised" after a previous application was refused, saying that the design process would account for emergency service provision.