BROMSGROVE District Council has taken steps to maximise space in the authority’s chamber - expected to be packed when a decision is made on a controversial planning application tonight, (January 7).

Last year a bitter row developed over Cala Homes’ proposal to build 175 new homes in Kidderminster Road, currently owned by the Hagley Hall estate.

In September, around 600 angry residents stormed Lord Cobham’s estate during a march.

The high level of interest in the application has led council chiefs to take steps to ensure the entire capacity of the chamber at the Council House, Burcot Lane, is available for tonight's planning committee meeting.

Legally the council can accommodate 150 seated people including committee members and officers attending, so the public gallery will accommodate around 125 people on the night - including registered speakers.

Temporary walls are being removed to maximise space so full seating can be added, and attendees for other agenda items are requested to attend 90 minutes after the start of the meeting, which begins at 6pm.

Villagers are being warned council officers will be forced to turn people away once all 150 seats are filled, and they will be operating a one-in-one-out system.

Claire Felton, the council's head of legal and democratic services, said: “Should more people come on the night than can fit in the room, please understand the restrictions that are placed on us.

“We are legally responsible for ensuring people are safe on our premises and we will follow the law, having to turn anyone away is the last thing we would want to do.”