Developers have won an appeal to build 40 homes on protected sports land in East Molesey.

Langham Homes’ plans for 42 homes, garages, a mini-soccer pitch, outdoor gym and children’s play area on the site of the Pavilion Club in Hurst Lane were rejected last February.

The planning application received 150 letters of objection.

Loss of open space was the main reason Langham Homes was refused planning permission earlier this year, with the sub-committee saying “the loss would not preserve or enhance the character and enmity of the street scene and the local area”.

The application was altered in the appeal to offer 50 per cent open space, compared to the 38 per cent previously.

Half of the homes are earmarked as affordable.

Tony Pidgley, director of Langham Homes, said: “We are delighted that the appeal was won and believe it’s the right decision for the site.

“The planning inspector clearly found that the shortage of housing in East Molesey was a material consideration.”

Leader of the council, Stuart J. Selleck, said: “We are very disappointed that they’ve gone ahead with this against the residents’ wishes.

“Most people in the area do not think it’s a proper site to have this sort of development on.

“And what about the Section 106 agreement?”

A historic S 106 planning covenant, which states the land may not be used for anything other than recreational purposes, has prevented developers from building on the sports land in previous years.

He added: “As a council we need to think about where we go from here.”

Steve Bax, an aspiring councillor for West Molesey, posted on Facebook that the “baffling” decision was “incredibly disappointing for the community and local campaigners”.

He said: “It's a baffling decision given that the land is protected by a covenant which stipulates it can only be used for community leisure purposes.

“Indeed in 2013 a previous application for homes was rejected on those grounds.”

Elmbridge Council has been contacted for comment. 

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