THERE will only be one way into the 495-home Siege Cross development if the plans are approved.
A2Dominion is looking to build the homes to the east of Floral Way and north of the A4. The outline plan was submitted in February and showed two access points – one off Floral Way and another off the A4.
But, under an amended plan submitted by the developers, all traffic will access the development from a roundabout between Archangel Way and Simmons Field. A route off the A4 will be available for buses and emergency vehicles only.
The amendments also include a dedicated lane for turning onto the A4 from Floral Way, a toucan crossing south of Archangel Way and a foot and cycle path on the east side of Floral Way.
Thatcham Town Council objected to the amended plans at a meeting last week.
The town council’s technical consultant, Chris Watts, said that the amended plans went nowhere near addressing the fundamental issue of building nearly 500 homes in the town.
Speaking on the changed road layout Mr Watts said: “There’s a lot going on in a short space. I’m surprised that West Berkshire Council see this as an alternative.... two ways in and two ways out has got to be better than one access.”
Councillors heard from the chairman of Thatcham Flood Forum, Ian Dunn, who said the group had ‘very serious reservations’ about whether the drainage system would cope with additional water from the homes.
He said that Siege Cross was the first major application that was outside of the town’s flood protection scheme, meaning there was a lack of information on flooding.
Mr Dunn said that if the drains could not cope the water would overflow; flooding houses and the Pipers Lane Industrial Estate, which were affected by the devastating 2007 floods.
Mr Watts explained “What we are looking at is history repeating itself. The developer is working on the assumption that they can control it and that's all they need to do.”
Meanwhile, planning agents Barton Willmore have responded to residents objections to the development.
Posting on the the council’s planning site, the agents said that the town would need to build more than the 900 homes by 2026 envisioned under the district council’s housing targets. They say this number will be higher and that building on fields surrounding the town was the only way to meet the need – with Siege Cross being the most appropriate greenfield site.
As for traffic, the agents say that modelling has shown that Floral Way will be at capacity regardless of whether the homes are built or not. However, the amended road layout will reduce delays and be able to cope with extra traffic. They add that the development will add no more than four cars to queues at Thatcham station.
Addressing other concerns, they say that the development is designed to ensure the risk of flooding does not increase; provides an opportunity for a new GP surgery; and provides a practical solution for Francis Baily and Kennet School.
West Berkshire Council is expected to decide on the application by Thursday, October 7 and residents can comment on the amended plans until this date. View the application by entering 15/00296/OUTMAJ into the council’s planning website.