A BID to build a new affordable housing estate in rural Gloucestershire will have to be reconsidered after a councillor got up in the middle of a planning meeting and left to “go to the loo”.
Aster Group was granted permission on July 11 to develop around 1.2 acres of grassland next to Church Road in Longhope by Forest of Dean District Council planners.
Their proposals for an exception site, which would prioritise people with ties to the village, include a mixture of one bed flats and two to three bed houses.
But the council’s development management committee will have to consider the scheme again as, during the debate in July, Councillor Richard Burton (G, Newnham) got up and walked out of the meeting while officers answered questions about the plans.
Helen Blundell, the council’s legal officer, spotted it and pointed it out to chairman Dave Wheeler (G, Newland and Sling).
“He’s probably going to the loo”,” Cllr Wheeler replied.
Ms Blundell said: “He shouldn’t do that in the middle of a meeting.” She recommended that the committee should pause, and Cllr Wheeler said they were pausing anyway.
But within seconds the meeting continued and planning officers continued to field questions from councillors. However, Cllr Burton returned minutes later and later on in the meeting he proposed a motion to approve the scheme. This was passed by six votes to three with one abstention.
However, councillors will have to consider the scheme again at their meeting on August 8.
The agenda papers say the proposals were sent to the committee after a complaint that the application was not properly assessed at the previous meeting.
The housing scheme is opposed by Longhope Parish Council and some 22 residents who have raised concerns over flooding, impact on wildlife and safety concerns with the access onto Church Road.
The recommendation from officers for the proposals is to grant delegated permission. The Forest of Dean District Council has been approached for comment.