A BUILDING plan that would have put new homes on a "wildlife oasis" in York has been blocked by city councillors.

Planning committee members overwhelmingly opposed Yorkshire Housing's plans for Severus Hill, saying there were numerous problems with the proposals.

The housing association wanted to build 43 homes on the site, and on Thursday evening its planning agent Kester Horn told councillors the city needed 200 new affordable homes a year but was consistently missing that target. Over the last five years, the city has seen an average of 95 new affordable homes built a year.

He urged the councillors not delay a decision, and said productive talks had already gone on between the housing association and council planners meaning a revised scheme could be on the cards.

However the committee had already heard from several nearby residents who described their fears about the plan.

Neighbour Jane Ley told them Severus Hill was "not your usual brownfield site" and acted as a wildlife nursery from which species could spread around the city.

Resident David Ryder added: "We feel this is the wrong place to build any type of housing, for a host of sustainability, visual, ecological, amenity and landscape reasons."

Planning officials had already given the committee a written recommendation to turn down the plans, but on Thursday said there was no reason to defer a decision as a revised plan would need an entirely new planning application.

Cllr Ann Reid said: "In all the years I have sat on this planning committee I don't think I have ever seen an application which fails so spectacularly on so many items."

The site is an official "site of interest for nature conservation", she added, and the application fails in terms of design quality, impact on neighbours, and the amenity the new homes would provide for their own occupants.

Other councillors said that although the city needs affordable homes, the pitfalls of the Severus Hill site outweigh the benefits of new housing, and the committee voted unanimously to refuse application.

The same meeting saw a new care home approved for Fulford - on the site of the former city council owned Fordlands care home.

Committee chairman Nigel Ayre said: "It does seem as if we are getting a wealth of applications for care homes, but what we are really seeing is a step change in provision.

"We were lagging behind and had a shortfall not only across the city but in each and every ward."