PERMISSION has been given to build the controversial 473-home development in Ryde, on the site of the last dairy farm in Ryde.

Isle of Wight planning committee members debated the issue for nearly three hours.

The decision to give the green light split councillors — with four members trying to find a valid reason, that would hold up at appeal, to refuse the application.

Passionate pleas came from Amy Holliday, the wife of tenant farmer Nigel and current occupant of Westridge Farm, to save the green fields the family have farmed for the last 55 years.

Isle of Wight County Press: The Hollidays.The Hollidays.

The Hollidays, as tenant farmers, have permission to farm the land for three generations and her nine-year-old son, Archie, is next in line to take on the land.

Mrs Holliday said: "We wish to keep farming. We will lose our homes and our livelihood ... this would close the farm forever."

The Holliday family have recently got the support of the Plunkett Foundation to turn the farm into a community farm, with mentoring from a successful community farm in Shropshire.

Chief executive of Captiva Homes, Iain Delaney, said they were also Islanders so recognise the importance of developing the Island properly but the benefits would be providing more jobs, unlocking £100 million of investment and providing 473 much-needed Island homes.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Mr Delaney said of the first phase of houses already built on the farm, with permission already granted, 80 per cent went to Islanders and there were no second homes.

Acting as planning agent for Captiva, David Long of BCM, said there was a presumption in favour of sustainable development unless there was a significant impact that demonstrably outweighed the benefit and there was no significant impact.

Mr Long said the benefits would include 166 houses affordable for Islanders with 10 hectares of open space and 2,500 trees.

A vote was originally proposed by Cllr Chris Quirk to approve the application, saying it was a battle of the head and the heart — in his heart he wanted to save it but his head could not see a valid material planning consideration.

Cllr Geoff Brodie asked for the proposal to ensure 70 per cent of the affordable houses be rented but the proposal was voted down, with three votes for, four against and one abstention.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Opposing the application, Cllrs Claire Critchison, Chris Jarman, Warren Drew and John Medland put forward reasons why the application should be turned down but were warned against parts of their arguments by planning officer, Sarah Wilkinson, due to the potential for a legal challenge should the decision be appealed.

Following work from officers, Cllr Jarman proposed to reject the application on the grounds that it would be a loss of pasture land and historic landscape, which would have an impact on the heritage and culture of the area.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cllr Brodie, who was chairing the meeting as Cllr Michael Lilley was advised against attending the meeting, said he heard all the councillors' concerns but councillors could not expect the officers to defend the unreasonable.

He called the proposal put forward by Cllr Jarman a desperate attempt to refuse the application.

Cllr Jarman's proposal fell due to Cllr Brodie's casting vote.

Cllr Martin Oliver, who abstained from the first vote, said he did so because he was waiting for an argument that would overrule his head and was hoping for a good enough reason to refuse it but one had not been found or put forward.

The proposal to support the development, with 71 per cent of the affordable houses for rent, was passed with four votes in favour, two again (Cllrs Jarman and Medland) and two abstentions (Cllrs Drew and Critchison).