A DEVELOPMENT of 125 new homes on a greenfield site has been given the go-ahead but families who move in may have to make sure their children avoid being bitten by venomous snakes.

A proposal to build the new housing estate in Mile Oak received planning consent over the objections of more than 360 nearby residents.

While several reptile species in the area will be relocated to a nature reserve as a condition of the development, hibernation sites for adders - the country’s only species of venomous snake – will be protected and retained on site.

Councillor Leo Littman (Green), in favour, said: “I don’t like the idea of building on greenfield sites but we’ve had to identify some and I think this submission ticks all the boxes.”

Builders Crest Nicholson will add an estate of houses and flats off Overdown Rise to the north of Mile Oak Road. The development will partly fill what is currently Greenfield space between the northern tip of housing in Portslade and the A27.

It will include 40 per cent affordable housing - in line with council targets – and officers assessed it will increase public access to open space, and represent a net gain for ecology and biodiversity.

A nearly-identical proposal, rejected in February, garnered more than 370 opponents. This submission, also wildly unpopular among residents, has removed a vehicle access point and five houses from close to Mile Oak Road and goes to some lengths to assuage ecological concerns.

Protected reptile species including slow worms, grass snakes and common lizards will be moved to a designated four hectare site in the nature reserve on Whitehawk Hill.

However in response to concerns over the translocation of reptiles, county ecologist Dr Kate Cole told the meeting of the Brighton and Hove City council planning committee: “I recommended that snakes stay on site because they don’t cope as well with transportation as slow worms.

“Adders can stay faithful to hibernation sites for years, so it’s likely they would return.

“The habitat they use would be retained as they tend to hibernate in scrub and woodland. If it looks like suitable hibernation habitat might be removed, it’ll be surveyed beforehand and if that is a site, it will need to be retained and protected.”

Speaking for objectors to the plan, resident Stuart Hodges said there had been “anger” over Crest Nicholson’s “questionable methods, lack of attention to detail and false promises.”

He mentioned The Argus’s coverage of the firm’s Davigdor Road development, where it has reneged on a promise to include affordable units in a 47-flat complex, despite it being a prerequisite of planning consent. Crest instead paid £1.2 million to build cheaper housing elsewhere, but the u-turn drew criticism from councillors who said it would lead to ghettoisation.

Mr Hodges asked the committee: “Do you truly believe they’ll honour their promises? Their track record says, ‘no chance’.”

Council officers had recommended the plan for approval, subject to Section 106 payments, and the committee backed their staff by a vote of eight to three with one abstention.

A spokeswoman for Crest Nicholson said: "We are pleased with the decision and look forward to delivering much needed local housing."