A forgotten house and a low gate caused a council meeting to descend into "farce" last week.

On Wednesday (July 25) members of Epping Forest District Council's plans committee south met to scrutinise applications for Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill.

After moving item number five to the front of the queue to cater for the heavily pregnant applicant, chief planning officer Jerry Godden outlined his objections to a modern looking gate planned for an art deco property on The Drive, Buckhurst Hill.

Agreeing with Buckhurst Hill Parish Council's suggestion that the gates were incongruous with the 1930s built road, Mr Godden argued that the plans should not pass.

While in a typical planning meeting this might have been the end of the matter, the applicant then Emma Melotta came to the microphone and surprised councillors when she mentioned separate approved plans to rebuild their house.

She said: "We wanted improved security as my husband's work vehicle has been targeted numerous times.

"We decided we would keep the fence low. The highest point is no higher than chest height, 1.4m.

"The new design of the house is quite modern. We thought traditional fence would be out of place."

This prompted confusion in the chamber, with Cllr David Wixley asking the chief planning officer to confirm her claims.

Mr Godden replied: "There is no relevant history and no plans as far as I can see.

"Sorry, I don't understand what members are asking."

As Mr Godden attempted to find the plans on the council's website, Cllr Michael Owen added: "I'm not a massive fan of gates, but as the owner of a Jack Russell who likes to escape I can see the necessity of gates."

At this point Mr Godden found the plans and apologised, prompting chairman of the meeting Cllr Darshan Sunger to try and defer the item.

He was informed this required a vote, which he subsequently lost.

Following further discussion about whether the gate was 1.2m, 1.4m or 1.6m tall, Cllr Gavin Chambers - who brought the item to the floor - said: "We have approved much higher gates in Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill.

"This is just a farce."

After two more lengthy delays, the gate was approved.