Plans for up to 501 homes on the outskirts of Cramlington were thrown out by councillors who were keen to protect 'prestige' employment land.
The proposals by Homes England, for land at West Hartford Business Park, to the north-west of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service's HQ, were unanimously rejected at Tuesday's meeting of the county council's strategic planning committee.
The bid was a hybrid submission seeking full planning permission for a wildlife mitigation area covering 26 hectares on the northern part of the site and outline permission for up to 501 dwellings, a primary-care facility and associated open space on the southern 25-hectare section of the site.
But planners had recommended refusal as allowing it to be used for housing "would result in the loss of a high-quality employment site".
Setting out the reasons, planning officer Geoff Horsman explained that this site represents more than half the employment land available in Cramlington and 10% of the county's total.
At 32 hectares, it is also the largest single site available in Northumberland, which makes it valuable if there were a large-scale investor needing a large area for development.
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