A DECISION on creating new homes for 43 students in High Wycombe has been put on hold after councillors were split over a planning application.

Members of Wycombe District Council's planning committee were divided in their views on whether they should allow new student accommodation in Hughenden Road to be created.

Opinions ranged from calling the site "a ghetto" and "a disgrace", to being a big improvement for High Wycombe.

But councillors have instead agreed to defer the plans while they seek more information on the plans to alter six empty homes and create new houses of multiple occupancy for students at Bucks New University.

The houses currently at the site have been empty since 1987 after being made the subject of compulsory purchase orders by Buckinghamshire County Council to make way for a dual carriageway, but the plans never came to fruition.

And some members of the planning committee attacked a perceived council policy of favouring flats or homes of multiple occupancy over family homes.

Cllr Alan Hill said: "We are losing family homes. We are in desperate need of family homes. This is an absolute disgrace. We should refuse it on the grounds of loss of family homes, which are much needed in this town."

Cllr Roger Colomb, whose ward covers the area where the application has been made, said Hughenden Road would be "irretrievably blighted" if an area of family homes were to be converted to "tatty" HMOs.

He said: "If the current attitude prevails, it will become a ghetto."

Cllr Colomb added the council would bear the cost of the project because they would not be entitled to claim any council tax from students living there.

But Cllr Sebert Graham countered: "Students need accommodation. Some of them come from outside High Wycombe - we've got to get used to it. The university is bringing something new to High Wycombe and I think we should embrace that.

"The application is an improvement of the site. The houses have been derelict for many years - this is going to make a big improvement and provide residential accommodation for students, which should be a right."

And Cllr David Johncock added: "The site at the moment is an eyesore. Any work on it is going to be an improvement."

Councillors agreed to defer making a decision until a future meeting.