Building 2,000 homes on greenbelt land surrounding Chester would destroy the city’s character, opponents claim.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) says 5,250 homes are needed in Chester by 2030 and proposes building 2,000 in the green belt.
No specific sites have yet been revealed but a recent council study earmarked 10 greenfield sites on the city’s edge for development, including land bordering Blacon, Lache and Upton.
Executive members rubber-stamped the plans when they met on Thursday and the proposals will now go to public consultation.
But they have been warned they will face massive opposition and opponents have questioned whether so many homes are needed.
Saughall and Mollington councillor Brian Crowe said: “The greenbelt is very precious to the residents of Chester and woe betide any group, political or otherwise, that seeks to decimate it.
“There is a general presumption that these houses will be lived in by people who work in Chester, but the plain fact is that not everyone wants to live in Chester and it is another fact that not everyone can afford to.”
Other greenfield sites identified in the council study are in Boughton Heath and along the Wrexham Road corridor.
Great Boughton parish councillor John Salt said parts of Chester had already reached “saturation point” and the plan would threaten the city’s “very special nature”.
He said: “Anybody passing down the A41, A51 and A56 will understand the pressure on the community and how the community is feeling at this moment in time.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression and your first impression of Chester is coming through our parish. Please leave it alone.”
Ann Jones from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the organisation had “serious reservations” about the plans.
She said: “Proposals for a strategic change to the Chester greenbelt would be a complete reverse of the policy of protection which has been so successful in maintaining the unique character of this historic city and its rural setting.”
The council says 1,900 homes are also needed in nearby villages including Kelsall, Tarvin and Tattenhall.
Tarporley has the highest number with 400 homes and parish councillor John Millington said: “It has taken hundreds of years for our historic village to grow to the current size.
“This is a colossal increase over a relative short timeframe which will alter the character of the village forever.”
Initial consultation on the plans is expected to last 10 weeks, with more detailed consultations taking place early next year.
Across the borough, the council says 21,000 new homes are needed but Chester is the only area that would see greenbelt land released for development.
Earmarked for development
Area 1: Land dividing Saltney and Lache and the A55
Area 2: Land along Wrexham Road bordered by Westminster Park, Duke’s Drive and the A55
Area 3: Land south of Handbridge bordered by Duke’s Drive, The Meadows and River Dee
Area 4: Land south of Whitchurch Road in Boughton Heath
Area 5: Land dividing Boughton Heath and Christleton alongside Whitchurch Road
Area 6: Land at Piper’s Ash
Area 7: Land north of Long Lane in Upton Heath
Area 8: Land along Liverpool Road and Moston Road in Upton
Area 9: Land north of Blacon along the Shropshire Union Canal
Area 10: Land dividing Blacon and Saughall bordered by Parkgate Road
See full story in the Chester Leader