A housing association has been accused of treating a Runcorn estate 'like a Monopoly board' as controversial plans to bulldoze hundreds of homes were rubber-stamped.

Halton Council's Development Management Committee met at Runcorn Town Hall last night where it approved plans by Riverside for the next phase of a £60m regeneration scheme in Palace Fields.

It will see  317 homes at The Uplands demolished, along with Palace Fields Community Centre and the closure of two subways. This will then be followed by construction of 257 homes, new roads, footways and cycleways. The plans are the latest phase of a scheme by the social landlord planned to regenerate the area over the next decade.

The first phase has already been approved and will see the demolition of the existing shops, replacing them with a new local centre.  Bethesda Church will be bulldozed and replaced with a new church building. New homes will also be created – including a veterans’ village – and the derelict Tricorn Pub and stables will be redeveloped to create new homes.

But objections have been raised by some local residents over phase two due to the prospective loss of their homes, including those who own their own properties or have adapted them for their own specific needs, such as for disabled family members. Many have lived on the estate since it was built in the 70s.

Speaking at the meeting, objector and local resident Mr Davidson, said many residents were struggling to sleep due to worry and stress, with some needing to take antidepressants.

He told members: "For Riverside, these properties appear to be like pieces on a Monopoly board, which can be bought, sold and moved. But for residents they are so much more. These properties are homes filled with love and long-lasting memories."

A letter from MP Mike Amesbury raising his concerns was read out at the meeting by Cllr Alan Lowe, who also read out a statement from himself and his fellow ward councillors.

Cllr Lowe said: "Nobody is objecting to rebuilding Bethesda Church and local shops and regenerating the Tricorn site, but they do not want to leave their homes."

Clover Long, a senior planner at planning consultancy Lichfields, spoke on behalf of Riverside, she told the meeting: "The vast majority of properties will be affordable dwellings, particularly affordable homes for rent. The proposals will continue to help meet affordable housing needs in the area."

With demolition approved, if someone does not want to leave their property Riverside could in theory apply for compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) which would forcibly uproot anyone who does not wish to leave, with councillors raising concerns at the meeting.

Cllr Chris Carlin, said: "I know the area really well. I used to live there and used to work at Four Estates. I'm concerned about CPOs."

Officers said any application for a CPO would be a separate process to planning and would have to be referred to the secretary of state.

Members voted unanimously to approve the plans, with the exception of Cllrs Thompson and Loftus who did not vote as they had previously attended community meetings over the scheme.