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Thatcham councillors object to 'Henwick Park' proposals

'Opportunistic developer chancing their arm' over 265 home plans

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Email:

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Thatcham councillors object to 'Henwick Park' proposals

THATCHAM Town Council has added its objections to a 265-home scheme to the north of the town.

Last week, councillors met to discuss Croudace Strategic’s plans to build the homes at Henwick Park – along with a sports pitch and pavilion, allotments, community orchard and provision for a GP surgery – to the north of Heath Lane and west of Cold Ash Hill.

Councillors heard from Cold Ash flood warden Ian Goodwin, who said he was deeply concerned about the flooding implications surrounding the development.

Mr Goodwin, who helped people affected during the 2007 floods, said he had since made a vow to try and alleviate flooding in the area. He said that Henwick Park would have “a detrimental impact on the Rivers estate”, adding he believed it would pose “a major flood threat to the rest of Thatcham”.

He feared that plans drawn up by West Berkshire Council and Thatcham Flood Forum, to defend the town, would be made redundant if the homes were to be built. 

Croudace has also proposed to build flood defences on the site. West Berkshire Council, however, has raised concerns that the defences are not appropriate for the site; along with a lack of provision to maintain them.

Speaking at the meeting, district and town councillor Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) said the developer had been negligent about the severity of flooding and residents’ concerns for it.

Croudace has also argued that the district council’s housing plan is out of date and that more houses will need to be built in the district by 2026. The council’s current plan says that approximately 900 homes should be built in Thatcham during this period.

The council is in the process of updating its housing numbers target, which is expected to be published this autumn. It has said that a new plan assessing the district’s housing requirements will be drawn up should the housing figure increase.

A report prepared by the town council’s technical consultant Chris Watts said that Henwick Park was contrary to council policy and had significant strategic implications.

Mr Dillon said that Henwick Park was “an opportunistic developer chancing their arm”. He said that developers looking to build across West Berkshire should wait for the outcome of the district’s housing needs rather than ‘riding roughshod’ over the democratic process.

“Then we can see what our housing need is and what infrastructure is needed rather than piecemeal applications, which I suspect they are hoping to win on appeal,” he said. “This is, to me, not how a developer should behave.”

In his report, Mr Watts said that traffic would significantly worsen peak hour congestion and road safety on local roads, while the separate identities of Thatcham and Cold Ash would be significantly threatened.  

He concluded by saying that these issues would remain regardless of the outcome surrounding the council’s housing supply.

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