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Hungerford Town Council face four-way battle against 100 new homes

Government, district and two developers join forces

John Garvey

Reporter:

John Garvey

plans

HUNGERFORD Town Council is now fighting a battle on four fronts over its opposition to 100 new homes off Salisbury Road.

Meanwhile, there is a nail-biting wait to hear if a judge will allow the fight to take place at all, as the Government seeks to torpedo the bid.

The latest developments were outlined at an extraordinary meeting of the full town council, attended by interested members of the public, on Monday night.

In April, developer CALA homes and Wates Developments won permission for the development, to the east of Salisbury Road, in the face of fierce opposition from the town council, many residents and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty group.

The town council unanimously voted to seek a judicial review of the decision to approve the district council’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document.

That will focus on whether due process was followed.

At Monday’s meeting, town mayor Keith Knight said: “All interested parties can voice objections to our application [for judicial review].

“The Government has been looking at it and the Secretary of State has put forward reasons why our judicial review application shouldn’t proceed.

“West Berkshire Council forwarded similar arguments.

“Then, in the last couple of weeks, the developers weighed in as well.

“So that’s the Government, West Berkshire Council, CALA Homes and Wates Developments all joining forces against us.

“Four against one doesn’t seem very fair but I suppose it’s all up to the judge.”

Mr Knight also revealed that the process was taking longer than anticipated as many of the judiciary have gone on holiday.

Deputy mayor Helen Simpson referred to the fact that the original application involved 5.1 hectares, which was subsequently changed to 7.1 hectares, and said: “The mayor and myself met with Cold Ash Parish Council recently.

“They said they had had similar levels of increase [in the scale of planning applications] on three occasions and, when they approached West Berkshire Council to ask why they had jumped considerably in size, they were told it must have been human error.

“That’s three times so far it has happened due to ‘human error’ – we’ll be the fourth.”

Town councillor Doris Colloff accused developers and the district council of using “cunning” in such a process and personally pledged £500 towards the war chest.

The town council could need up to £35,000 in its coffers to fight the legal battle to its conclusion.

Costs to date have been assessed as up to £11,000.

Chairwoman of the town council’s environment and planning committee, Carolann Farrell, said: “Once we get the decision over whether we can pursue the judicial review we’ll call another meeting so the whole town can make the decision whether to proceed.

“It will be the town’s decision. We should move forward together.”

Contributions to the fund can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/salisburyroad 

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Article comments

  • RetiredGranma

    15/08/2017 - 17:05

    The Town Council are on a hiding to nothing. It's all about BIG money and they are just flies to be swatted out of the way. It's all done and dusted behind closed doors years ago. That's how development works. Housing is needed in Hungerford but not these and not in this location in these numbers.

    Reply

  • jterrier

    15/08/2017 - 11:11

    Its quite important to point out that this opposition within the town isnt just NIMBYism. 1) the location of these new homes is disastrous, as it is in a field at the opposite end of the town to all the major routes and amenities. Nobody would mind if they were built near to the garden centre on the a4. 2) nobody minds there being 100 new homes in the town, if they were guaranteed to be cheap starter homes; but they wont be, as there is no profit in there for the developers. 3) at present the town infrastructure isnt enough for those who already live here. There arent enough school places, or doctors appointments, or parking spaces, etc etc etc; so people who live in these new houses may well be compelled to drive to shalbourne or bedwyn etc, all of which increases traffic and damages the environment 4) the estate will be built straight across some of the nicest footpath routes and countryside views around the southern end of town; when these are all gone, what do we do?

    Reply

    • Bruno

      24/08/2017 - 09:09

      Is it not NIMBYism ? The council were happy to point out that the majority of residents opposed the plan, but that was just the majority of people at a town meeting. I would assume that the vast majority of residents who don't oppose the plan didn't bother going to the meeting. The alternative presented by the Town Council includes small groups of houses around the town, including down near Marsh Lane. The road down to there is quite narrow and already chocabloc with parked cars, lorries, coaches etc, so I don't see how increased traffic up the High Street would be worse that increased traffic through many of our current residential roads. Perhaps the Town Council should canvas the whole town for their views before spending OUR money on legal action.

      Reply

    • Mongo

      16/08/2017 - 22:10

      Quite wrong re school places. JOG is a great school and still with huge potential, and loads of space for more students. HPS is a great school, and can currently go to 2.5 FE *.5 higher than current, and if WBC gets the numbers, they'll resurrect their 1.5 mill expansion proj to take it to 3 FE. What Hungerford needs is development. It needs young families that are willing to invest in the community. It needs to get rid of the notions that are keeping the empty and festering units in the high street. If a commercial unit is so unappealing for the rent that is demanded, then either drop the rent, or invest in the unit. Or run it as a pigeon sanctuary, with comedy faux owl... Agreed it's not NIMBYism, but balance must be struck between something and nothing happening.

      Reply

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