DEVELOPERS told a planning committee they can no longer afford to restore a section of canal as part of a housing project.

Outline planning permission was granted in March 2015 to Codex Land PCC Cell B to turn employment land at Holmer Trading Estate in College Road into 120 homes.

At the time, due to viability, the planning committee agreed that the developers would not provide affordable housing or 106 monies, but said they had to pay to restore part of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal which runs along the southern part of the development.

However, following lengthy discussions the developer said it was not viable to pay for the full restoration of the canal and could only safeguard the canal corridor to include capping with topsoil and landscaping which would cost £160,000.

The indepedent district valuer agreed with this conclusion and The Canal Trust said it can only concur, but asked for the canal to be transferred into their ownership so they can continue the restoration.

The applicant's agent, Ambrose Fieldman, told Herefordshire Council's planning committee that detailed investigations since the last planning approval revealed a lot of issues. He added: "This is bread and butter housing - not executive housing or anything like that."

The committee heard it is a brownfield site of contaminated land as the tar works used to be on that site.

Coun Elissa Swinglehurst said: "I do understand the problem of viability. Therefore realistically there is little we can do about that.

"And so it is worthwhile focussing on the upside. A brownfield site that is contaminated - it will improve the site and deliver much-needed homes."

She said the development must provide a suitable mix of housing including smaller homes.

However, Coun Jim Kenyon said: "I think this is outrageous. If they were stupid enough to buy it in the first place.

"It is like running a business and getting it wrong and someone else has to pick up the pieces."

He said there is a real need for accessible housing.

He added: "This district valuer - is he a unicorn or something like that? I would like to know what he considers affordable housing is."

The tenant businesses at the site were moved off in 2016.

Coun Nigel Shaw said that if the government want to develop brownfield sites it will have to assist local authorities or developers with the cost.

Coun Steve Williams said: "We have no option but to support this as it stands. What will follow if we don't? It will be left derelict for years. I don't think that is a very good idea."

There were 12 councillors in favour of the amended planning application and two against.