AN ISLE of Wight councillor has resigned from the planning committee over the controversial, major West Acre Park development.

It follows the first anniversary of the Isle of Wight Council's decision to approve the 473-house plan on the outskirts of Ryde — although planning permission has not officially been granted yet.

The lack of official consent has, however, been cited as one of the reasons Cllr Michael Lilley, former chair of the committee, felt he needed to stand down.

Cllr Lilley has been against the plans, increasing the number of houses in his ward, since they were announced and could not attend the crucial meeting where the plans were approved, due to his pre-determined stance.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Michael Lilley.Cllr Michael Lilley.

At the time, despite a written statement from him read out during the meeting, Cllr Lilley said felt there had been a concerted effort to stop him talking and properly representing his residents.

Since that meeting, however, campaigners trying to save Westridge Farm and Cllr Lilley have rallied to create a case for judicial review against the Isle of Wight Council.

In his resignation letter, Cllr Lilley said he felt being part of the committee compromised his ability to speak on the application.

He said it was untenable to remain when it upholds a decision he and his residents believe is flawed.

Cllr Lilley also said he felt it was in the interest of the council and developers, Captiva Homes, to withhold the decision so "they can grind down objectors".

Isle of Wight County Press: Protestors outside the Isle of Wight Council offices in Newport ahead of the decision last year.Protestors outside the Isle of Wight Council offices in Newport ahead of the decision last year.

Planning permission needs to be issued before a judicial review can be launched and from then campaigners will have six weeks to submit the challenge.

A report from the council's former chief executive John Metcalfe earlier this year said procedural allegations around the application did not raise significant legal issues and should it reach a judicial review there is a defence for every point.

The application was reconsidered by the planning committee earlier this year after councillors considered there were failings in the original decision.

The motion to think again on the application, submitted by Cllr Chris Jarman, was rejected by six votes to four.

In his resignation letter, Cllr Lilley alleges, however, some councillors' votes on the motion were linked to the draft Island Planning Strategy (IPS) the council is trying to push through.

Cllr Lilley has asked for a full investigation, saying the recommendation to remove potential housing sites from Bembridge in the IPS influenced the way members voted.

He said: "I feel it is disrespectful to my planning committee colleagues and planning/legal staff to continue as a committee member if I harbour the above concerns, distrust and doubts."

Cllr Lilley's full letter can be read here.

Isle of Wight County Press: Three generations of the Holliday family.Three generations of the Holliday family.

The Holliday family, who currently work Westridge Farm, are still preparing to leave, should the permission be granted before the end of October.

Campaigners have raised more than £18,000 to fight the council's decision through judicial review should it be accepted.