Landscaping works in "the driest area in the country" must be carefully implemented when a large housing scheme for a Bedfordshire town emerges, a meeting heard.
A development brief for Barton-le-Clay was presented to Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee yesterday (November 3).
The site is located to the east of the village and covers about 70 acres, according to a report to the committee.
"Barton-le-Clay used to be called Barton-in-the-Clay," warned Independent Central Bedfordshire councillor for the town Ian Shingler.
"Bear that in mind and that this area is the driest in the country when considering what trees to plant and where.
"I've objected to development on this site in the Green Belt from the proposals in the 1980s to its inclusion in this year's adoption of the Local Plan.
"Despite that opposition I'm pleased Taylor Wimpey are the developers now bringing this forward. I welcome the brief's commitment to 30 per cent affordable housing.
"All things considered this is a well-thought-out plan which has taken into account the feedback from local residents."
He urged the company to include solar panels on the roofs which "would be a unique selling point" for the project.
It will include a primary school on five acres of land when an outline planning application is eventually submitted.
Planning officer Andrew Cundy told the committee the site was identified for housing in the CBC Local Plan for 498 homes.
"The plan requires all sites of more than 20 properties to prepare a development brief," he explained. "The level of public engagement has to be in proportion to scale of the plans.
"This helps identify key areas of concern and offers the chance to amend the brief."
Endorsing the development brief "doesn't imply that a planning application for the site will be approved", said the report to councillors.
"This brief has been prepared to show how a planning application would address relevant policy and guidance."
Senior strategic land and planning manager for Taylor Wimpey plc, Struan Power, said: "Following CBC's adoption of the Local Plan in July, the site has been removed from the Green Belt and allocated for about 500 homes plus a primary school.
"Extensive consultation has taken place over a number of years with officers, stakeholders and the local community since the site emerged as the preferred allocation for growth in the draft plan of 2018.
"The development brief has been informed and evolved through this consultation and the feedback received.
"This has spread into the outline planning process to be considered separately by the committee in due course."
Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "I'm concerned about connectivity and how it fits into the points of access and the rest of the urban development.
"To have as an objective that we're just watching the evolving climate just seems so out-of-date that's it's almost laughable.
"I'm pleased there's a commitment to sustainability and I'm sure a lot of work is going on, but it hasn't found its way into the objectives.
"There's a huge wasted opportunity here, so I cannot support this brief."
Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young referred to comments made by residents during the Local Plan process, saying: "A lot of houses in Barton-le-Clay are under occupied because there's no opportunity for elderly residents to move to more appropriate accommodation.
"We'll wait for the planning application. Lots of pages, lots of drawings, very technical, very shallow, but no reason not to endorse it."
Councillors endorsed the development brief with 11 votes in favour and one against.