Preliminary plans to build hundreds of homes in High Wycombe have been given the green light – despite concerns over increased traffic and a lack of retirement housing on site.

On Wednesday (February 13) Wycombe District Council’s planning committee said they were “minded to approve” initial proposals to build up to 550 houses at in the Abbey Barn south reserve site, subject to the completion of a number of obligations, such as providing affordable housing.

The development will include a range of one to two-bedroom flats and houses with up to five bedrooms – 40 per cent of which will be classed as “affordable”.

Space for an industrial site – with a view to increase employment opportunities – has been included in the proposal, replacing earlier plans for retirement accommodation.

Planning officers will now have to agree the final details of the application before it is given final approval.

The committee also gave the nod to developers, Berkeley Homes, to start work on the first 129 homes of the development in Abbey Barn Lane, as well as parking and landscaping.

Abbey Barn south is one of five reserve sites released for development in 2014, in a controversial move by WDC.

Andrew Taylor from the High Wycombe Society objected to the proposals, saying he is “hugely disappointed” that earlier plans to build retirement accommodation were abandoned.

He told the committee: “The High Wycombe Society, along with many other people, have consistently supported the developers originally proposal for an Extra Care facility on the south western part of the site.

“We considered this an imaginative proposal that will provide employment opportunities, while also making contributing top the district’s housing needs.

“We are hugely disappointed that this has been abandoned in favour of either class B1C, light industrial use, or class B18, storage and distribution.”

Cabinet member for planning on WDC, David Johncock, said the development would have a “significant impact on traffic”, adding drivers will have to be “discouraged” from using single-track Winchbottom Lane as a rat-run.

However, Cllr Tony Lee said he is “wholeheartedly behind” the development as it “appears to have everything we normally demand”.

Cllr Alan Turner backed the move to scrap plans for retirement accommodation, as High Wycombe has reached “saturation point” when it comes to that type of accommodation – with some residents struggling to sell their homes.

He said: “They don’t create much in the way of employment, they don’t create much in the way of boosting the local economy and I really think we have reached a tipping point. They have a place in the housing market, but I think we have gone well, well, well beyond that.”

Divisional land director at Berkeley Homes, Elkie Lees, said there are “many key benefits” to the development, including the provision of up to 212 affordable homes and a range of apartments and houses.

She said: “The scheme has been designed to respond to its distinctive setting with high quality bespoke homes planned around the landscaped character areas within the site.

“The families that live here will have easy access to the generous open spaces. 40 acres of open spaces will be created and public access will be given to currently private land.”