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"Bitter disappointment" as 400 homes approved on appeal

Developer wins right to build near Newbury Vodafone HQ because of housing delays elsewhere

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

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01635 886633

 "Bitter disappointment" as 400 homes approved on appeal

PLANS to build up to 401 homes around Vodafone's Newbury headquarters have been approved on appeal. 

In a devastating blow to residents fighting the scheme and West Berkshire Council the Planning Inspectorate has ruled that developer CEG can build the homes to the north and west of the A339 around Vodafone's HQ. 

The council refused the scheme in 2015 as it felt that it did not adequately address the impact on local roads and education and was not included in the council’s housing plan. 

But delays to the 2,000 development at Sandleford has seen the council's housing target slip and it admitted that it does not have a five-year housing supply without the development coming forward.

New evidence introduced at the appeal made it clear that the council was unlikely to defend its decision to refuse the application. 

Indeed, the council withdrew all of its objections to the site at the appeal held in January this year and did not submit closing statements to the inquiry.  

The Planning Inspectorate said that in December 2016 the council had a five year land supply but the Council could no longer demonstrate it. However, in allowing this appeal for 401 dwellings, the Inspector recognises that the Council will again be able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.

Speaking about the decision Councillor Hilary Cole, West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for Planning said: “I’m bitterly disappointed by the Inspector’s ruling. We want to take a proactive, plan-led approach to planning to deliver new housing for local people and decisions like this undermine this stance.

"It is frustrating that the slow delivery of new housing by developers who already have planning permission has consequences for subsequent applications and makes decision-making that much harder. Despite the ruling today we remain committed to delivering more housing for our residents and making West Berkshire a desirable and affordable place in which to live, work and relax.”

 Jon Allen from CEG said: “The decision confirms that this is a suitable, deliverable and sustainable solution to providing much-needed housing in the area.

"The development is adjacent to one of the largest employers in West Berkshire, providing the chance to live and work in the same area and reducing the need to commute.”

For more reaction and analysis see the Newbury Weekly News, out on Thursday. 

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Article comments

  • DonCossack

    24/03/2017 - 00:12

    Ah yes, the town's largest employer is shedding 500 jobs and the second largest has upped sticks and left. What do we need? More people to compete with for jobs!

    Reply

  • PeterNorman

    PeterNorman

    22/03/2017 - 01:01

    This has been brought about by our Council's incompetence. By putting all their housing eggs in one basket, Sandleford, any delays to that scheme was bound to open up the risk that they could not demonstrate a 5 year housing supply. They were warned of this during the protests regarding the selection of Sandleford and now they find themselves in a situation that Sandleford was suppose to prevent, uncontrolled development in other parts of the town. Five years have passed since Sandleford was approved as a strategic site in the Core Strategy and the fact that they still cannot get planning permission proves how difficult a site it is, whilst unapproved and rejected sites such as North Newbury get the go ahead. The Council's Housing Plans for Newbury have been thrown into chaos and the sooner they do a complete re-appraisal the better. The fact remains that the original selection criteria used for Sandleford was wrong at the time and is wrong now and the town is paying the price.

    Reply

    • Bombey

      22/03/2017 - 11:11

      Peter - you have been against Sandleford since day one. It would seen you are also not happy with development of the Fairhurst Estate land at Vodafone. Where exactly would you build the houses Newbury needs? Being against things is fine, but you do need to have a contingency.

      Reply

  • Oldmoaner

    21/03/2017 - 18:06

    If Newbury has to expand this is the area it has to be in, it is the only area with workable infrastructure that does not disrupt the rest of the town for years to come. West Berkshire planners are completely responsible for these planning debacles, every application has to be fought legally. They talk of visions, structures and agreed area's then change their mind. These planners are are frightened or incapable of making proper decisions and act on instruction from an executive board and a planning committee all with their own personal agenda's without a real care of what happens in the county.

    Reply

  • PhilW

    21/03/2017 - 14:02

    It's all very well that Hilary Cole expresses her disappointment - but it was her department at WBC that caved in and failed to offer any objections to the inspector. So now we will have these 400 houses as well as the 4000+ already approved at the Racecourse, Sandleford etc.

    Reply

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