'LET'S go back to the drawing board on the massive Pennyfeathers scheme!' - the call from the mayor of Ryde this week who said the people behind it appeared to be 'playing for time'.

Developers said the requested changes are necessary and fair.

As a planning deadline looms, those behind the controversial 900-home housing development are trying to change the conditions of permission — but Ryde mayor, Isle of Wight Councillor Michael Lilley, claims says they are doing it just to keep it alive.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Controversial plans for Pennyfeathers - a huge development filling the gap between Smallbrook Junction and Busy Bee Garden Centre, submitted by Pennyfeathers Property Company - were approved in 2017.

Up to 904 houses, a school, community centre, commercial buildings, a sports building and more are expected to de developed there.

Read more: Pennyfeathers planning application submitted to Isle of Wight Council

In August 2019, the Isle of Wight County Press reported work might not start there until 2022.

Read more: 'Wasteland' Pennyfeathers development in Ryde might not start until 2022

Isle of Wight County Press:

What's the latest?

In applications submitted to the Isle of Wight Council, listed applicant, Hepburns Planning Consultancy, is asking for the wording to be amended, to support further applications of reserved matters.

In a further twist, Hepburns has revealed on its website that it is closing, although honouring existing contracts.

Isle of Wight County Press:

An application for reserved matters, for the first phase of the development, must be made to the Isle of Wight council's planning team within three years of permission being granted. That deadline expires in just under three months - on August 31 2020.

After reserved matters are approved, building work can begin within two years.

Hepburns is asking to change the wording of a condition about submitting a phasing plan for the development. It says it was 'constructed somewhat awkwardly' and 'prejudices the ability of a reserved matters application being made in a timely manner'.

Cllr Michael Lilley says the developers have had three years to come back with the full planning permission application and are putting in variation orders simply, in his mind, to keep the development alive.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cllr Lilley said: "It is simply stalling. We are now experiencing a life-threatening pandemic and the housing needs of the town have totally changed overnight.

"The landowners and developers of Pennyfeathers should do the honourable, ethical and moral thing and let the outline application fall on August 31. There should be a new open and transparent discussion with all stakeholders about what Ryde genuinely needs. Covid-19 has told us one important lesson and people, residents and community becomes before profit.

"I will be 200% fighting this and all large developments in my ward, as a resident and as an Isle of Wight and town councillor."

Cllr Lilley also said houses at the top of Marlborough Road and Westridge Junction, brought by the company and stripped of greenery after residents' complaints, have been left derelict. He called them an eyesore 'for all to see'.

Two other conditions are also asked to be changed, one adding the word 'commercial' to a sentence and another to change the number of houses occupied before cycle and footways have been constructed, surfaced and drained — from none to no more than 100. Ryde Town Council objects to that change.

In a planning statement, Hepburns said: "It does not appear reasonable for a condition to impinge on the time allocated for a reserved matters application nor should, by law, be a requirement of a reserved matters application.

"A simple change to the wording at the start to “With the” [from 'Prior to'] carries forward the intention of the condition and allows a lawful submission of a reserved matters application."

Comments on the applications (20/00670/RVC and (20/00607/RVC) can be made from tomorrow, Friday.