The plans – which had prompted a number of complaints from local residents – were for a slim, five-storey block with two apartments at Bakers Yard within Little Kelham.
Five councillors voted against the plans, the same number voted in favour and three abstained. Because it was an even split, under planning rules the chairman Coun Peter Rippon had the casting vote and agreed the proposals.
He said: “I’m not happy with the scheme but I can’t find anything in planning that would allow me to vote against it.”
The councillors in favour were Coun Rippon, Alan Law, Peter Price, Tony Damms and Dianne Hurst.
Councillors who voted against it were Jack Clarkson, Rob Murphy, Roger Davison, Andrew Sangar and Chris Rosling-Josephs.
Michelle Cook, David Baker and Zahira Naz abstained.
The site, in the centre of the Kelham Island Conservation Area, was originally going to be an energy centre but developers Citu decided to build the two apartments instead.
There were 29 objections from residents who said the new block would be too close to their homes, would overlook them, and risked dwarfing the other buildings in the area.
Coun Rosling-Josephs said: “I have struggled with this one. I like tall buildings and would like to see something iconic but this is a two-up, two-down apartment block.
“It’s a poor design and they are trying to cram as much as possible into the space. I am really struggling to see the benefits of the building as it’s out of character and it’s an over development with a poor design. Somebody has stuck a bit on it to try to get some extra cash and I am really disappointed.”
Coun Murphy called it an ‘obvious overdevelopment’. He said: “The heritage value of Little Kelham is stunning and this will squeeze in something that doesn’t fit just to make more money.”
Coun Jack Clarkson added: “This is a shoehorn application. It’s overbearing and a loss of privacy.”
And Coun Davison said: “Five storeys for that small space is far too big. It’s only two apartments on top of each other.”
But Coun Price, who approved planning permission for Kelham Island Museum in 1982, said: “I don’t accept this is ugly, it adds to the mix of buildings. I don’t know what the big hoo-ha is over the height of this.”