The council has back-tracked on a decision to put forward a former care home for redevelopment as housing.
The Oakhurst Grange site, in Goffs Park Road, had been included in the town’s Local Plan for redevelopment into 55 homes.
At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (July 23), Cllr Bob Lanzer (Con, Pound Hill South & Worth) tabled an amendment asking for the site to be removed and for the housing to be allocated instead to Bewbush.
The amendment was voted down by Labour and there was incredulous laughter when they then tabled a virtually identical amendment, but lacking the new homes in Bewbush.
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) called on Bupa, which owns the building, to re-open it as another care home to help tackle the shortage of spaces available in the town.
He said: “Our town needs us to look after their health and wellbeing as well as their housing needs.”
Cllr Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) said his party would support the amendment and criticised the decision to place Oakhurst Grange in the Local Plan in the first place.
He accused Labour of tabling a late amendment in an attempt to save face and said: “Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s because of us that you are doing this.”
Cllr Liam Marshall-Ascough (Con, Southgate) said he was “baffled” no Labour councillors had raised concerns at an earlier date. He added: “It seems like Labour have no idea what’s going on.”
Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb defended the change of heart and he in turn hit back at the Tory councillors for not raising their concerns sooner.
He said: “No one brought this up at all until tonight, not just the Labour Party. You shouldn’t find it surprising that when people present an argument then the Cabinet might think ‘yes, that’s a good idea. We’ll go for that’.
“If you had come to us we would have considered it because this is a serious issue.”
Addressing the loss of the 55 new homes, Cllr Lamb added: “For the time being we’re not going to reallocate the numbers. I’m very happy to change my mind again in the future is I have better information.”