"They won't die, they won't disappear, they will just move" — the future of a major Ryde housing development has been decided after concerns over protected curlews were addressed.

The 473-home West Acre Park, proposed by Captiva Homes, was yesterday (Tuesday) given the go-ahead again by the Isle of Wight Council's planning committee.

It means the development can continue after an issue was raised by Natural England over the potential loss of habitat for protected curlews.

On the former Westridge Farm, more than 11 hectares had been a supporting site for curlews but around a quarter would be lost to houses.

Mitigation had been proposed including turning a neighbouring field into a wetland habitat, protecting the site from human intervention and education boards explaining the site.

Cllr Matthew Price said the new site for the curlew could potentially make the habitat better, as other examples of mitigation have worked over time and are now flourishing.

When the planning committee went on its site visit, Cllr Chris Quirk said they did not see or hear a single curlew despite it being the breeding season.

He said: "You have to balance that against 160 affordable homes and 2,500 on our housing waiting list."

The biggest threat to curlews Cllr Quirk said was foxes, not the loss of habitat.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cllr Chris Jarman raised the issue of there potentially being other threatened species on the development site which had not been mitigated for.

He was concerned with how old the curlew data was but was told that it was the data Natural England had raised its concern over.

Cllr Peter Spink said he thought there was every prospect the land could still be farmed if the application was rejected and questioned why the plans could not be changed so the curlews could keep their field.

Isle of Wight County Press:

A vote to reject the application, on grounds the mitigation was not sufficient, fell by five votes to six.

Cllr Debbie Andre proposed to grant conditional planning permission subject to an increase in affordable rented properties.

It was also asked that, in the legal agreement, the curlew mitigation site would be delivered early on in the development stages.

It was approved with six votes to five.