PLANS to build 190 homes opposite Milford golf course have been approved - despite concerns councillors felt they have been "hoodwinked".
At the outline application meeting in February 2019, officers confirmed that "although the application said up to 200, this was not committed to and could change when it came to reserved matters".
But on arriving at the reserved matters stage, council solicitor Barry Devlin told members: "A local planning authority cannot effectively revoke or modify the scope of an outline planning permission without paying compensation to the developer."
Witley Parish Council chair Gillian McCalden said she had been at the meeting two years ago, and "recall those assurances that the numbers could be scaled back at the reserved matters stage if required".
Councillor David Else (Conservative, Elstead and Thursley) said: "If we’d had the benefit of Barry Devlin’s advice at that meeting, perhaps we wouldn’t have voted for 200. But we were assured by the-then head of planning that 200 didn’t mean 200, it meant up to 200 and could quite easily mean anything from 175, around 180.
"The majority of members were hoodwinked, I think, by that assurance, and we then ended up with the situation we’ve got now. I can’t see that if we refuse this on numbers we’d ever win any appeal. It saddens me greatly to have to say that."
Waverley leader Cllr Paul Follows (Lib Dem, Godalming South and Ockford), whose county council division includes Milford, said: "I voted against this in 2019 and it’s extremely frustrating now to sit here and watch people pick up the pieces of that incredibly bad decision."
Gary Worsfold, speaking on behalf of the applicant, Cheshire-based developer Stretton Milford Ltd, said the design had been two years in the making and they had "truly listened".
He said they met the national space standards in every instance and were providing 467 parking spaces, which is 75 above the council’s requirement and includes 32 for visitors.