A developer has won outline permission to build 130 homes on an area of green space that was previously planned to be retained for public use.

Community Health Partnerships’ application to build four blocks of flats at Finchley Memorial Hospital, North Finchley, was approved by Barnet Council’s strategic planning committee on Thursday.

The decision came despite 677 objections from the public, officers’ admission that the proposals went against a council policy protecting open space, and a pledge to keep the area as a publicly accessible open space under the hospital redevelopment approved in 2010.

Planned for land south of Granville Road and east of Bow Lane, the four and five-storey flats are designed to be used by NHS staff and healthcare workers, including those on lower pay bands.

Jennie Arthur, who lives in Bow Lane, told the committee the protection of open space was one of the most fundamental principles of the planning system, and North Finchley had been recognised by the council as having a deficiency in open space.

“Our green space is a valued and much-used area, as demonstrated by the strength of local objection,” she added.

Ms Arthur claimed the main problem with NHS recruitment was nurses’ wage levels and pointed out access to green space helped to improve mental and physical health.

Three councillors also spoke against the plans. Cllr Geof Cooke (Labour, Woodhouse) said the land was provided to residents as a communal green to compensate for the hospital and car park being built on the former Bow Lane playing fields.

He raised doubts the affordable housing pledge – upped from 50 per cent to 100 per cent before the meeting – would be honoured, claiming it was uncosted.

Cllr Ross Houston (Labour, West Finchley) also pointed out that the open space – which he said was protected under national planning policy and not justified by the application – was supposed to be retained for public use under previous plans.

And Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg (Liberal Democrat, Garden Suburb) raised concerns the flats would be sold on the open market, claiming the only reason the developer could promise 100 per cent affordable homes was because the NHS pay bands they were intended for went up to £87,754.

But GP Dr Clare Stephens spoke in support of the scheme, saying staff retention was one of the challenges to expanding care at the hospital.

“Clinical continuity is really important,” she said. “We need to offer…good quality, accessible accommodation to our staff, and they will offer us, in return, the commitment and continuity of care.”

Dr Stephens said North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group was “down over 8,000 in terms of the nurses we need to employ”.

A spokesperson for Community Health Partnerships said they had taken a “landscape-led approach” and “put green space at the heart of the development”.

“We want local residents to benefit from the facilities and have therefore worked hard to keep the site open to the public,” he added, claiming half of the site would still be available for residents to use.

“We believe these proposals represent a fine balance between local residents’ needs (and) commercial viability and provide long-term homes for NHS workers while retaining community use of this enhanced green space.”

A council planning officer told the committee the housing would be ringfenced for NHS staff, and there would be no prospect of the homes being sold on the open market.

The officer said more details of the affordable housing mix – planned to be a combination of social rent, intermediate rent and shared ownership – could be submitted for the committee to consider when the application is brought back at the “reserved matters” stage.

Six Conservative committee members – Cllrs Eva Greenspan, Melvin Cohen, Julian Teare, Mark Shooter, Golnar Bokaei and Reuben Thompstone – voted to approve the plans.

Lib Dem Cllr Jess Brayne voted against, along with Conservative Cllr Stephen Sowerby and Labour’s Cllrs Nagus Narenthira and Claire Farrier. Two Labour councillors – Tim Roberts and Laurie Williams – abstained.