RESIDENTS opposed to an “unauthorised” Hungerford housing development have suffered a double setback.
Developers who flouted planning conditions were initially warned they risked being told to pull down the new homes in Upper Eddington.
Hungerford Town Council backed the objectors and senior West Berkshire Council planning officer Jake Brown warned Waddington Forbes Homes Ltd: “Please note that the development is currently unauthorised and may be subject to enforcement action. Therefore any further development of the site continues at your own risk.”
But now the town council has unexpectedly withdrawn its opposition – and a West Berkshire planning officer’s report recommends allowing the developers to continue as they wish.
The town council's environment and planning committee members said they had been told by the district council that the conditions had been met, and withdrew its formal objection subject to that being the case.
However, district councillor Paul hewer (Con, Hungerford) said he thought the committee was mistaken.
In 2012, planning permission for two detached houses with garages on land adjoining 14 to 19 Upper Eddington was approved, despite objections.
But in recent weeks furious residents demanded action, claiming that work that was specifically forbidden by planning conditions was ploughing ahead regardless – and that the homes’ number of bedrooms had doubled from two each to four.
They also fear a landslide and claim their fences have been damaged.
The current planning officer’s report acknowledges 10 official objections plus a petition of 28 signatories requesting the “investigation of the development taking place and possible breaches in the original planning application”.
But it goes on to state: “The proposed finished floor levels and the subsequent resultant height of the dwellings... are not considered to detrimentally impact on the character and appearance of the (area).
“The proposed finished floor levels are not considered to result in dwellings of height that appear at odds with the surrounding built form when viewed from the public realm... this is not considered to result in any significant overshadowing.”
He adds: “...concern regarding the damage to existing boundaries during construction works... is not a planning consideration and is a civil matter.”
The report does acknowledge that “the outlook from neighbouring properties will be changed by the erection of the proposed dwellings” but concludes: “However, in planning, there is no right to a private view.”
Residents say they fear they have been kept in the dark about behind-the-scenes discussions and demanded to know the value of planning conditions if they can apparently be disregarded with impunity.
One, Lesley Roberts, mentioned, as an example, “hedging that was planted to gain the first set of permissions, which is now removed."
Although the report recommends allowing the change to the conditions, the matter will now be thrashed out at West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee on Wednesday, September 2.
Meanwhile the committee is planning a site visit.