Plans for a new 33-bedroom hotel with a restaurant, spa, gym, swimming pool, alehouse and bakehouse in Kingham have been rejected.

The team behind Daylesford Organic was seeking planning permission to redevelop the former Mill House Hotel in the village.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Uplands Area Planning Sub-Committee approved the application but the Development Control Committee met this week to re-consider the decision.

The Mill Lodge was part of the application and surrounding land including a field to the east.

A free electric shuttle bus service was proposed to operate between Kingham railway station, The Mill, The Wild Rabbit pub and Daylesford Organic Farm.

Officers said the decision to approve was already of concern in that it raised significant policy issues and correspondence had been received indicating that procedural and policy flaws meant it could face a legal challenge.

The report said: “Officers are mindful of the general principle that it is for Officers to ‘recommend’ and for Members to ‘decide’ and as such this right of referral is only exercised very rarely indeed.”

Cllr Dean Temple said: “The Development Control committee felt that officers put forward a compelling case and quite a large number abstained.

“There was great unease at not only the idea of going against the knowledge and experience of the officers but also of risking taxpayers’ money in legal fees.

“They were minded that planning policy meant they had to show ‘exceptional circumstances’ for saying yes to something so major. They felt that this was not exceptional enough.”

Fifteen letters were received on WODC’s planning portal objecting to the “inappropriate size and scale” of the development and stating that the bus service would be of “limited use”.

Villagers also said housing additional hotel staff plus the large number of second homes in Kingham would reduce local resident numbers “damaging further what was once a lively and thriving village community”.

But there were nine letters of support saying that The Mill is “an eyesore” and Kingham was lucky “to continually enjoy the interest of the Bamford family who bring valuable and sensitive development to this part of the world and generate much-needed sustainable employment and high-value tourism.”

Overall, Kingham Parish Council welcomed the proposal but raised concerns over scale, seemingly inadequate parking for staff plus guests and traffic issues.

Council planning officer Joan Desmond recommended refusal.

In her report she accepted there were likely to be benefits to the local economy but that the development comprised major development within the Cotswolds AONB and “an exceptional circumstances case has not been made to justify this development which would have a significant adverse impact on the area's natural beauty and landscape including its heritage.”

Daylesford has been approached for comment.