The fate of a council-led plan for 37 homes in Odd Down will be decided next month.
Councillors were asked to make an urgent decision this week but said they needed to visit the site off Englishcombe Lane to understand the impact the scheme would have.
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s own conservation, landscape and urban design officers said its plans were not acceptable, while the authority’s ecologist objected in principle because the site is of “county-level importance” due to the presence of tufa flushes, a “vulnerable and increasingly rare habitat”.
The plans also faced opposition from 48 residents concerned about drainage, a loss of privacy and the impact on the green space.
One of them, Danny Groves, told the planning committee on 29th July: “There seems to be a huge disconnect between the council’s positive declarations to preserve ecology and the planning case officer’s summary.
“It doesn’t consider the permanent damage to features that cannot be lifted up and placed in another area. It dismisses them because we need to build more houses.”
The plans propose off-setting the impact on Englishcombe Lane by creating new habitats at another site in Pennyquick Lane.
Representing the council, planning agent Arwel Evans said the mitigation was comprehensive and would boost biodiversity by 65 per cent.
He said: “The scheme is sustainable, attractive and presents benefits to the local area.
“The provision of small houses provides opportunities for local couples and young families to enter the housing market.
“All homes will be fitted with an electric vehicle charging point, solar panel and heated by ground source heat pumps.
“The applicant is looking to upgrade it into the first Passivhaus development in Bath.
“The principle of development is well established.”
The council has allocated the site for 40 houses.
Moorlands ward member Councillor Jess David said: “There’s a fundamental question about whether the scale of development is right for this site if it can’t be delivered without mitigating harm.
“This has been a field for the last 200 years or so. Any development of 37 homes will make a significant impact on the local area. I share residents’ concerns about the design.”
Cllr Eleanor Jackson proposed a site visit, saying the committee had not had enough time to digest all the information.
The meeting heard that the council may have to reapply for Homes England funding for additional affordable homes as any delay would prevent the ecological surveys taking place this year.
The committee voted to visit both sites.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter