An angry resident has said he could launch legal action against a council over a ‘shambolic’ decision to allow up to 26 homes on a country road.

The development at 31 Barkham Ride in Finchampstead was approved by Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee last month.

But Barkham Ride resident Jeremy Smith believes a councillor was ‘unlawfully’ barred from voting for being out of the room at the start of the discussion. He told the News his ‘bone of contention’ is ‘the way that shambolic meeting was run'.

Councillors voted by a knife-edge to approve the development at a planning meeting on June 12. Four of the nine councillors on the commitee voted to approve the plans while four voted against.

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But councillor Moses Iyengunmwena abstained after being advised he shouldn’t vote due to being out of the meeting when planning officers began presenting the case to the committee.

The committee had agreed to take a short comfort break before the presentation began some two and a half hours into the meeting. Councillor Iyengunmwena was out of the room when the meeting restarted.

After returning he was informed by the council’s senior lawyer that the its constitution tells members ‘don’t vote or take part in the meeting discussion on a proposal unless you have been present to hear the entire debate including the officer’s introduction’.

She suggested that councillor Iyengunmwena ‘give consideration’ to that. The council’s democratic services officer later confirmed that he had to abstain in the vote.

But Mr Smith says this is only a ‘guideline’ in the constitution and not a rule – arguing that councillor Iyengunmwena could have voted. The council says the guidelines are ‘effectively rules for the council to follow’.

Mr Smith also says councillor Iyengunmwena told him he would have voted to refuse the plans. Councillor Iyengunmwena told the News he has ‘expressed concerns to the relevant authorities’ and didn’t want to comment further.

Mr Smith says he’s told the council that if the meeting isn’t re-run he’ll apply to the courts for a judicial review. He said: “What the democratic services officer confirmed was factually wrong.

“If they don’t re-run the meeting then the only recourse is a judicial review.” He said that he and other residents would have to ‘club together’ to launch the legal action as ‘it’s not a cheap process'.

Wokingham Borough Council said it couldn’t comment in detail due to the threat of legal action. But it said the council does have to follow the guidelines in its constitution.

A spokesperson told the News: “We have received letters about the consideration of the planning application for 31 Barkham Ride, including some mentioning potential judicial review.

“We are responding to these directly and are not able to go into further detail at the present time due to the possibility of legal proceedings.

“To briefly touch on the constitution, however, and the position of the guidelines, they are effectively rules for the council to follow”.