WEST Berkshire councillors have defied their officers’ recommendations, as well as their own planning policy, by refusing permission for 75 new homes in Newbury.
Members of the Western Area Planning Committee voted against plans for the development at Coley Farm, in Stoney Lane, after being told they would have “blood on their hands” if they made the wrong decision.
The plans were ultimately rejected due to safety issues, owing to the increase in traffic, concerns over flooding and the impact on the landscape.
However, the decision flies in the face of the council’s own proposed planning policy with West Berkshire councillors last year voting in favour of including the land in the Housing Site Allocation Development Plan Document (HSA DPD), which earmarks suitable development locations across the district.
As a result, the application will now go before the council’s district planning committee, which could see the decision overturned.
The plans, submitted by Newbury developer Donnington New Homes, would see a mix of one-, two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes built on the 3.75 hectar site.
Forty per cent of the homes will be affordable.
The plans also include a total of 162 parking spaces and two access points on to Stoney Lane, which would also be widened in an effort to improve safety.
The application had drawn heavy criticism from many local residents, who raised numerous concerns, including the issue of road safety along Stoney Lane, Kiln Lane and Turnpike Road.
The meeting heard from ward member Garth Simpson (Con, Cold Ash), who urged his fellow councillors to reject the plans due to the negative impact on the landscape, concerns over flooding, as well as the traffic, which he said was a “nightmare”.
He said: “Kiln Road is one of the most stressed in the district.
“It is heavily used at peak times by schoolchildren – it is unsafe.”
He added: “You face the moral hazard of blood on your hands if you make the wrong decision.”
Proposing a refusal of the plans, Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) said: “In principle I have no objection to developing on this site.
“However, I do feel that the number of houses is excessive and the additional traffic on the local area will be unacceptable.”
Before members took to the vote planning officer Michael Butler warned councillors about the implications of their decision.
“This is a recommended site,” he said.
“You as a council has proposed this site.
“It’s gone through a lengthy process. We are not at the final stages of that process yet, but substantial weight must be given to the DPD.”
He went on: “If the council were to refuse an application on one of its own recommended sites, then if the developer were to appeal the council would be clearly open to costs.”
Despite this, four out of the eight members voted in favour of refusing the application, with two votes against. Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) and Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) abstained.
A decision will now be made by the district planning committee at a later date.