PLANS to build 142 homes on floodplains in Chester have been approved by the Government.

An application by Bark Street Investments was initially rejected by the Planning Inspectorate but the decision was overturned on appeal by the High Court in 2016.

A new planning inquiry was then opened by the Secretary of State, whose office announced this week that the proposals were deemed acceptable.

It means the developer now has the green light to build a new housing estate on former sports fields off Clifton Drive, near Sealand Road.

The news has been met with dismay by environmental campaigners, who have always maintained the city’s housing needs are met by the Wrexham Road site where 1,400 homes are planned.

Andy Scargill, of The Friends of North Chester Greenbelt, told the Standard the group was “disappointed” by the decision.

He added: “This comes just a week after a study by Newcastle University into global warming, and its impact on our towns and cities, put Chester into the highest risk group for flooding.

“We would have thought that the extreme flooding in December 2015 which saw the River Douglas, which has an identical construction to the River Dee, breach its embankment and flood the nearby village of Croston would have been a wake-up call, but clearly not.”

Planning Inspector Peter Ware accepted that the site was in a flood zone but concluded that “the community benefits of the proposal outweigh the risk of flooding”.

Concerns had also been raised about the loss of sports fields but Mr Ware considered there was “no possibility” of the site being used again for sports.

Mr Scargill said the Government’s recently introduced National Planning Policy Framework was clearly not fit for purpose.

“Local authorities may have local plans but as has been shown many times, including at Clifton Drive, developers have the financial clout to be able to challenge decisions against them right up to the High Court,” he said.

“Sadly, our underfunded and cash-strapped councils do not have the money to do likewise, they are struggling to even keep their heads above water as it is.

“Successive governments which have brought about this situation should be ashamed of the legacy they are creating for our future and it is time this was addressed.”

Colin Griffiths, who represents Bark Street Investments, said the company was “very pleased” with the outcome.