A scaled-down plan to build hundreds of flats in suburban New Barnet has been rejected by councillors.

The 539-home scheme proposed for the former British Gas works in Albert Road failed to win planning approval during a meeting of Barnet Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.

Developers One Housing and Fairview New Homes already have permission to build 371 units on the site as part of their Victoria Quarter development plan. In 2020, they submitted new plans to increase the number of homes to 652, but councillors rejected the scheme.

Revised plans for 539 homes, submitted last year, saw the number of proposed blocks reduced from 14 to 13 and the maximum height dropped from ten to seven storeys. The developers also changed the layout of the flats and increased the spaces between the blocks to improve the outlook and daylight and sunlight levels.

The revised scheme was designed to provide 149 affordable homes for London Affordable Rent and shared ownership.

Despite the changes, nearly 800 written objections to the development were submitted to the council during a public consultation on the plans. Opponents claimed the size of the scheme would be out-of-keeping with the suburban area and harm local views.

Other concerns included overlooking and loss of privacy, a lack of three and four-bedroom units – 119 of which had been proposed – and an “adverse impact” on local infrastructure.

Council planning officers recommended the scheme for approval. In their report, they wrote that the “significant public and wider regenerative benefits of the proposed development would, on balance, outweigh any concerns relating to building height and density”.

Officers said the “high-quality” scheme would bring a brownfield site back into use and help to “revitalise” the town centre, adding: “No significant impacts are identified to neighbours and future occupiers and to the environment”.

The committee has yet to finalise the exact reasons for refusal but the council confirmed nine councillors voted against the recommendation to approve, with one voting in favour of approval and one abstention.

Because of the size of the development, a decision to refuse permission would be referred to the Greater London Authority. The mayor of London could use his call-in powers to approve the scheme or order changes to the plans.