THE first homes on the controversial Wrexham Road development in Chester are officially under construction.

Stewart Milne Homes has begun work on 31 luxury properties costing between £325,000 and £500,000 on the former Green Belt site.

Named Kings View, the estate is expected to be built by September 2018 with the some of the four to five-bedroom homes ready for families to move in by early next year.

The development is separate from Redrow and Taylor Wimpey's proposed 1,400 home scheme – which has yet to secure planning consent – but is on the same area of land.

The application was approved last year, despite fierce opposition from some quarters, including the Friends of North Chester Greenbelt (FNCG).

Critics maintain there was no need to take the expanse of green fields off the protected list in 2013 as there are enough ‘brown field’ sites to address the city’s soaring demand for housing.

They also say Chester needs affordable housing for struggling families, rather than luxury homes for the rich.

Andy Scargill, of FNCG, told the Leader yesterday: “Our default position has always been that we were opposed to any land by Wrexham Road being taken out of the Green Belt and we still are not convinced that the infrastructure of the area is capable of coping with 1,400 new homes.

“Furthermore, the need within Chester is for affordable and social housing not the luxury houses that Stewart Milne intend building.”

Stewart Milne says it is confident there is a demand for larger, more luxurious properties in Chester and its new development will appeal to many families.

Janet Solan, North-West senior sales manager at the company, said: “Kings View will be a great addition to our growing portfolio of developments in the North West.

“When complete, Kings View will offer buyers a private community of luxury and spacious family homes. Its location in the heart of Chester with its schools and amenities, make it particularly appealing.

“The decision to include an increased number of four and five bedroom homes, reflects the increasing demand for properties of this size in the North-West.

“It also reflects growing consumer confidence in the housing market, with homebuyers looking to spend more money to secure their dream home.”

More than 20 people and organisations had lodged formal objections to the plans, including the owners of the the wider site, Paycause Consortium Ltd, and Westminster Park Residents Association (WPRA), which represents 1,200 local households.

Paycause, which comprises Redrow Homes and Taylor Wimpey Homes, said the plans by Stewart Milne Homes should be considered within the context of the wider 1,400-home development, and advised the council committee against approving ‘piecemeal’ applications.

An application by Redrow for 509 homes – phase one of the wider scheme – have been lodged with Cheshire West and Chester Council and will be considered by its planning committee soon.