BUILDING work can now start on a controversial redevelopment in the centre of Chalfont St Peter after permission was granted on appeal.

Plans for nearly 200 new homes and a care home on the site of the former Holy Cross Convent in Gold Hill East were unanimously refused by members of Chiltern District Council's planning committee last year.

Developer Persimmon Homes appealed against the decision - and the Planning Inspectorate has this week found in their favour.

It means the company are now free to go ahead with the redevelopment, to the disappointment of council bosses.

Planning committee chairman Don Phillips said: "This appeal decision starts our New Year on a disappointing note. Our combined efforts with Chalfont St Peter Parish Council and others have, unfortunately, been rebuffed by the Inspector.

"At the hearing  extensive, very well-informed and well-presented objections to the scheme were articulated by representatives of the Parish Council, the District Council and by others with local concerns.

"Persimmon's consultation with residents on the proposals could have been better. Happily, the current proposal takes greater note of local concerns, which is extremely encouraging."

Persimmon Homes now has permission to build 194 new dwellings, of which 35 per cent will be affordable, and a 65-room residential care on the site of the former school. Several old buildings will be retained, as will some woodland.

The company lodged the appeal after the council turned down the application in June but last month submitted new proposals for 187 new homes on the same site in case it was unsuccessful. The application has not yet been considered by the planning committee.