A DECISION on whether controversial plans to build 233 homes on a Widnes golf course has now been taken out of the council’s hands after its planning department missed a crucial deadline.

Developer Anwyl Homes had its original proposals to reduce the size of Widnes Golf Course from 18 to nine holes and build a new housing estate on part of the land thrown out by the council in March. Over 2,000 local residents had signed a petition opposing the plans.

The firm then appealed that decision and lodged a new, amended planning application.

But the 13 week period to determine that new application has now expired, with Anwyl appealing to the Government's Planning Inspectorate on the grounds of ‘non-determination’. This means the inspector will now have the final say and not the council.

A report to the council’s development management committee said having to prepare evidence for the first appeal (which has now been withdrawn) and evaluate the new application - which had received over 400 objections - had led to delays. It also said the company did not respond to requests for a time extension.

The report said: “Members will note the challenges that the determination of a major planning application within the 13-week target date poses especially where the applicant has not engaged in detailed pre application discussions.”

It added: “Ahead of the target date for determination, officers set out realistic expectations for the consideration of the application and sought to agree a proposed time extension to work together in a pro-active manner to address matters where possible to limit reasons for refusal.

“The applicant did not respond to this request for a time extension.

“Members should also note that four days before appealing against the non-determination of the application, the applicant made further submissions to accompany the application.

“There was no time to undertake the required consultation / further publicity on these submissions and these will ultimately now need to be considered as part of the appeal consultation process.”

The inquiry is due to take place on February 28.