BATTLE lines have been drawn in what is perceived by some as a test case to prevent developers “thumbing their noses” at planning regulations.
At the heart of the ongoing row is a two-home development at Upper Eddington, Hungerford.
Residents opposed to the unauthorised build had until Tuesday to make their case to Her Majesty’s Planning Inspectorate, while West Berkshire Council planning officials have until Tuesday, February 16, to defend their position in slapping a ‘stop’ notice on the project.
The appeal will contest planners’ refusal to allow developers to relax or change a large array of conditions which were imposed alongside original planning permission for the two-home build which was granted, despite objections, in 2012.
Developer Waddington Forbes Homes Ltd of Cookham, did not wait for such permission but ploughed ahead, prompting claims that the development was larger than agreed, affecting residents in Upper Eddington, Waram Close, Linden Lea and Hamblin Meadow.
The matter eventually came before the council’s western area planning committee in September 2015 when member Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said she was “absolutely staggered by how dominant these buildings are”.
Anthony Pick (Con, St John’s) agreed, saying: “I was astounded by the degree of dominance of these two buildings.”
Clive Hooker (Con, Downlands) said: “I have never seen a construction that has been more offensive or overbearing.”
Howard Bairstow (Con, Falkland) later warned developers should not be allowed to “thumb their noses” at planning officers and added: ”It will be a free-for-all and I’m sure other developers are watching with interest.”
Many fear that, because the developer has been allowed to virtually complete the homes during the weeks it took to produce the stop notice, a planning inspector may be reluctant to reject the appeal or to order compliance with the original conditions.
One protester, Matt Ulry, wrote to the appeal inspector: “The development has reached a stage of almost completion; the developer has shown a disregard for the law by not acquiring the correct legal pre commencements prior to the development of this site.
“This renders the development unlawful and breaches the planning control under section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990.
“The outcome of this appeal will not only be of an interest to other developers and builders within West Berkshire area but also that of [Newbury MP] Richard Benyon.”
The appeal to be heard by Her Majesty’s Planning Inspectorate has been scheduled for June 23.
The decision will be announced at a later date.