Plans to build almost 60 new homes on green belt land to extend a retirement village have been delayed.

Audley Retirement wanted to redevelop part of the Epilepsy Society site, off Chesham Lane, Chalfont St Peter, to provide an extension to the existing Audley Care Community at Chalfont Dene by building 58 new homes.

Eighty new parking spaces were also proposed for the site, with 24 of those being disabled bays.

But because the site is within green belt land, the decision to approve or reject the application has been delegated to the head of planning and economic development.

Speaking at a packed meeting of Chiltern District Council’s planning committee, ward member Isobel Darby said there was “absolute support” for the application.

She said: “The Epilepsy Society site has been a site which has been involved in care for a long time and this is a wonderful use.

“The existing Audley development has appeared with absolute seamlessness as far as the local community is concerned.

“People have welcomed it and it has also opened its doors and welcomed the community in to its facilities and I see an extension to this as being a really, really good thing.

“It’s a wonderful thing to have in the village. I’d give it my wholehearted support.”

Cllr Murray Harrold said while he was not against the application, it was a “very large” application on an “important” green belt site.

He said: “I am a little bit concerned about the comment made [by developers] that there is no other site suitable within the district.

“There is also a statement here saying that it’s only a small amount of green belt and it’s hidden. That’s is not a reason. Green belt is green belt.

“You cannot say just because it is smaller and hidden away, we can lose it. That is a very dangerous thing to say.”

However, the application site does sit on an area of previously developed land on the south western side of the area.

Cllr John Gladwin said: “The report says the development in the green belt is appropriate.

“There are very special circumstances. This is redevelopment – it is a previously developed site.”

All the councillors voted to delegate the decision to the head of planning and economic development subject to 26 different conditions.