Controversial outline plans for 100 new homes in Seaton have been recommended for approval - though the final word on the plans may come from Westminster.

Members of the Allerdale Borough Council planning panel resolved that they approved of outline plans for the construction of up to 100 new homes on land to the east of Causeway Road in Seaton.

However, the final approval on the outline plans has not been issued, as the Secretary of State for local government, Robert Jenrick, has informed the council that he wants the opportunity to decide whether or not to call in the proposal, and make the decision in Westminster.

The controversial planning application has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny, including an independent peer assessment commissioned by Cumbria County Council in relation to the possibility of flood risks arising from building homes on the land.

This application had previously come before Allerdale's development panel in August last year.

At the meeting, council officers explained that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick had "notified" Allerdale Borough Council that he wanted the "opportunity to review any council resolution", in order to determine "whether it should be called in for his determination".

A decision on this application was deferred by the panel in August to allow for more evaluation on any flood risk associated with the plans.

Following this August deferral, Allerdale officers have liaised with Seaton community representatives, the applicant and their respective associated drainage consultants, as well as officers from Cumbria County Council, which acts as the Lead Local Flood Authority.

Being an application for outline permission, submitted by trustees of the Copsey Family Trust, further, more detailed plans would have to be approved before construction could begin.

However, the granting of outline permission would signal approval in principle of the prospect of up to 100 new homes being built on the site.

In a lengthy meeting yesterday, planning panel members heard detailed dissection of issues surrounding the proposals, from a number of local campaigners, consultants and Cumbria County Council officers.

As the authority in Cumbria responsible for judging the potential impact on flood risk posed by developments, Cumbria County Council concluded that a development could be built on this land that would not pose a flooding risk.

This conclusion came following an independent peer assessment commissioned by the council, which led the authority to conclude that a development on this site would be "acceptable", subject to "specific bespoke drainage conditions"

However, concerns over the impact building homes here would have on the flood risk posed to the area, particularly communities further downstream in the direction of Workington, such as Barepot, were voiced passionately by a number of objectors.

Amanda Wallace, representing the Workington Flood Action Group, argued that building homes on the land would "exacerbate issues at Low Seaton and Barepot", while Lynne Jones, representing the Derwent River Catchment Group, said that "there is no one who knows the drainage and the flood risk better than those who live locally.

"You need to heed what local people are saying."

She added that she was "all for supporting local housing", but added that she was concerned about how the risk of flooding could be "passed forward" to other communities as a result of the development.

Despite these concerns, Paul Brailsford, the agent for the applicant, urged the panel to "listen to the lead local flood authority", which had concluded that a development on this site could be realised without raising flood risks.

Cumbria County Council officer Doug Coyle explained to the panel that a number of measures have been suggested for a proposed development that would mitigate flood risks.

This includes using more porous surface material that allows for a slower release of rain into the nearby watercourse, "storage tanks" that have been proposed as part of the development's design to further slow the release of water from the area, and other measures all designed to avoid rapid run-off.

Concerns have also been raised over the fact that Cumbria County Council concluded that a financial contribution from the site's developer should not be required to make a financial contribution to address the impact on local schools.

These concerns were expressed in a letter sent to the planning panel from Workington MP, Conservative Mark Jenkinson, who described himself as "disappointed" to learn the council had concluded as such.

He argued that it was "folly" to conclude that pupil yield from the estate will be "evenly spread across the school years".

"Seaton Junior School has suffered with peaks and troughs of pupil numbers over many years now, and those peaks will only grow larger.

"It is incredibly short sighted to look only the next four years, or indeed to only consider overall capacity of the school. In the very recent past, year groups have had to be mixed to accommodate pupil numbers," he wrote.

Cumbria County Council officer Ed Page told planning panel members that the calculations used by the county council to model the impact of more homes in this area has been "approved as a fair methodology", and takes into account "internal movements" within school catchment areas.

He explained that the council's modelling was based on "representative" sample data from Cumbria, providing a "firm local evidence base".

He added that there is currently "increasing capacity in Seaton Infants, which will move on to Seaton Junior School".

Prior to the meeting, Allerdale planning officers advised in a report prepared for planning panel members that the addition of 100 homes is considered a "valuable contribution" towards delivering the area's housing need.

They acknowledged that Seaton has been the "subject of significant housing commitments" in recent years.

But this growth, planning officers note, is "not confined to Seaton", and the level of growth is described as being "considered to be commensurate in scale".

"100 dwellings could be supported by the existing infrastructure", planning officers have concluded, in addition to "that which could be secured" by a section 106 legal agreement, an instrument used by local authorities to lock in contributions from developers towards supporting local infrastructure.

As such, the principal of up to 100 dwellings "in this specific locality cannot be reasonably resisted," the report prepared for the panel concludes.

Following a consideration of the evidence, seven members of the planning panel concluded the plans should be approved, while three were against approving the plans, resulting in an overall resolution to recommend the plans for approval, subject to a total of 27 conditions recommended by officers being met.

However, the decision on whether to allow Allerdale Borough Council to formally grant outline approval now rests with the Secretary of State for local government, Robert Jenrick.

He now will decide whether to call in the decision and make a decision on the application at a national level, or whether to allow the authority to make the determination alone.