Contentious plans to release five Green Field sites across the district in order to meet the area’s housing supply demand were approved by politicians last night.

Dozens of residents attended Wycombe District Council’s cabinet meeting last night, where members approved officers’ recommendations to release five sites to make way for developments.

Councillors said the decision to release the sites was necessary in order to meet the district’s five year housing target.

Releasing the sites would also give the local authority and residents “more control” in shaping what would be built there, as oppose to leaving the decision “in the hands of developers”.

Yet strong reactions from the crowd, coupled with an opposition leader storming out of the meeting, led to heated debates and angry reactions from those against the sites’ release.

Abbey Barn South, Abbey Barn North, Terriers Farm, Slate Meadow and Gomm Valley and Ashwells were all up for discussion.

Leader of the Conservative-run council, Richard Scott, said: “This is an extremely difficult decision for us to take.

Map of the reserve sites

“It’s an important and difficult issue and we understand that the release of our reserve sites is controversial for some of those people living near to them.

“We are under no illusions as to the strength of local concern, but sometimes we have to make difficult judgements and tough choices in the wider interests of the district.”

Councillor Neil Marshall, cabinet member for planning and sustainability, said the council had been left with a “significant shortfall” of housing as the supply rate has been backdated to 2011 and the district must deliver between 500 and 700 houses a year.

Council estimates initially set a target of 400 houses a year before government guidelines changed.

Councillor Marshall said: “The key issue for this cabinet to decide is whether to stand back and leave it to developers to come in with their application for the sites, as is happening up and down the country, or to try and set the agenda for how they are developed in order that we and local residents can shape the future of those sites.”

He added: “The reserve sites have been reserved for future development for a very long time. They have all been reserved for development... for the last 25 years.

“Development has been anticipated on most of them since 1954, when the Green Belt was first established and they were excluded from it.”

Before councillors began discussing the reserve sites, the leader of the district’s Labour group, Ian Bates, stood up, declaring that the 60 seconds that non-cabinet members are allowed to speak is “entirely insufficient”.

He added: “I don’t believe that it serves any purpose and for that reason I won’t be taking any further part in the meeting, you will be pleased to hear.”

In response to questions arising over democracy, Councillor Scott said the decision to be heard in front of the cabinet, rather than the full council, was fully in accordance with the council constitution.

Councillor Katrina Wood, representative for Tylers Green and Loudwater, said the issue of infrastructure must be considered before any development takes place.

Liberal Democrat councillor, Trevor Snaith, called for a Green Belt review, adding that its important Wycombe is not “concreted over”.

He questioned cabinet members and asked: “Would you want this in Marlow or the rural areas?

"I don’t think so, so please let’s take those two areas out. Let’s take Gomm Valley out and Abbey Barn North out.”

Council officers outlined five options that were available to politicians. These were to do nothing, release some of the sites, not to do anything until more options are looked at, release other Green Field sites or release all five reserve sites now.

Politicians unanimously voted to do the latter.