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Thatcham residents wait on Siege Cross fate

Residents could find out next month whether 500 new homes will get the go ahead

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Email:

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Thatcham residents wait on Siege Cross fate

THATCHAM residents could learn next month whether nearly 500 homes will be built at Siege Cross.

The outline application, submitted by A2Dominion, will see the phased development of 495 homes to the north of the A4 and to the east of Floral Way.

The application also proposes a new primary school and community building, the exact use of which is yet to be determined.

There are currently 52 letters of objection registered with West Berkshire Council’s planning department and the scale of the development has led to neighbouring Bucklebury Parish Council joining Thatcham Town Council’s objections.

The application was submitted in February this year and was originally due to be determined by May 21, but the date has been put back at the request of the applicant.

In a letter to West Berkshire Council, planning consultant Barton Willmore argues that the application should be considered in light of the ‘progress’ made regarding an updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

The SHMA, which outlines existing and future housing needs and demands, currently states that 10,500 homes must be built in the district by 2026.

This number could rise, however.

When government inspectors approved the council’s core strategy in 2012, it was under the proviso that its housing figures be reassessed within a three-year period. That period ends next month.

In its letter, Barton Willmore said: “In our opinion the council should seek the opportunity of determining this application in light of the updated SHMA” and recommends putting the Seige Cross determination date back by two months to July 21.

It also argues that a number of responses from statutory consultees have been received, the majority of which have have not made any objections. The letter states that responses are awaited from the council’s planning policy and education departments, with developer A2Dominion ‘welcoming the opportunity to address any concerns’.

When asked whether Siege Cross would be viewed differently in light of the updated housing figures, council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said that any new number of houses for the longer term would not immediately affect the housing requirement or current policy.

She added that the new SHMA would not affect the council’s draft development plan document (DPD), which looks at non-strategic housing sites across the district and includes Thatcham’s Lower Way field, as any new housing requirement would be taken forward through the creation of new planning policy.

Residents are also waiting to hear on the future of the Lower Way field as the shortlist of sites has been delayed until October this year.

Ms Stoddart-Crompton said that the impending update to housing figures was not responsible for the delay and was down to the high level of responses received during the consultation period.

When asked whether it was normal for dates to be moved at the developer’s request, Ms Stoddart Crompton said that Government policy encourages councils to work proactively with applicants.

Thatcham North councillor Sheila Ellison (Con) has asked for the Siege Cross application to be called before a planning committee if officers recommend it for approval.

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