Plans to build up to 46 homes in Bersted have been refused by Arun District Council.
The application, for land off Shripney Road, was looked at by the development control committee earlier this month with most members wanting to turn it down – but unable to agree on the wording of their refusal.
The committee met again on Wednesday (June 24) where officers presented clear wording laying out the concerns – the risk of flooding, the loss of agricultural land, harm to the village and the limited economic, social and environmental benefits of the plan.
The decision to refuse was made against the advice of officers.
Cllr Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) made it clear that he felt the refusal was unsafe.
If he is proved correct and the applicant wins an appeal, the council could find itself facing costs running into the thousands.
The issue of whether Cllr Gill Yeates (Lib Dem, Bersted) should be able to vote was raised again.
Cllr Yeates owns property nearby and is also the director of a company opposite the application site.
While she had declared a personal interest in the plans, others, including Cllr Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel & Walberton), felt that interest should be prejudicial.
If her interest was prejudicial, the code of conduct directs that she should not have taken part in the discussion – except to make representations or answer questions – should have left the meeting during the discussion, and should not have voted.
It is up to each councillor to declare their own interests.
It was clear that some members felt Cllr Yeates had breached the code of conduct and that they would consider calling on the standards committee to investigate.
By Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter