PLANS for a 75-home development in north Newbury could get the go-ahead tonight (Thursday), after councillors initially rejected the application at a meeting in November.
Proposals for the new homes on land at Coley Farm in Stoney Lane, Cold Ash, will go before West Berkshire Council’s district planning committee when members will ultimately decide if the project is to go ahead or not.
Last month, members of the western area planning committee voted to controversially reject the plans, despite the land having been included in the council’s own list of preferred development sites.
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 hectare site, with 40 per cent of the homes to be affordable.
Donnington New Homes also plans to include a total of 162 parking spaces and two access points on to Stoney Lane, which would be widened in an effort to improve safety.
The plans have once again been recommended for approval by the council’s planning officer, who states in his report to the committee: “If all technical difficulties arising from the proposal are satisfied [and officers have concluded that this is indeed the case] the development is acceptable, and, indeed, will deliver important planning benefits in terms of affordable housing and the widening of an existing substandard highway at no cost to the council.
“There is also the enhancement of local play areas, to take into account and locally improved footway provision.”
The report goes on to note that if the plans are rejected it would “fundamentally undermine the council’s adopted plan-led approach to new housing in the district”.
Any such move, according to the council’s planning officer, would seriously weaken the council’s defence of the “many ongoing housing appeals”, such as Henwick Park and Seige Cross on the outskirts of Thatcham.
The application came in for heavy criticism in front of the western area planning committee, however, with concerns over flooding and the impact on the local landscape.
Residents, parish councillors and West Berkshire ward councillor Garth Simpson (Con, Cold Ash) warned members about the road safety issues that would arise as a result of the increased traffic, with Mr Simpson telling the committee they would have “blood on their hands” if the scheme was approved.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News this week, Mr Simpson said he “sincerely hoped” his fellow councillors would again opt to refuse planning permission.
He said: “I think the thoughts I expressed at the western area planning meeting remain exactly the same.
“You have experienced people from the eastern and western planning committees making the decision on Thursday and I hope to achieve the same result.”
He added: “I still have very grave concerns as to why it got in the portfolio of preferred sites in the first place.”