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Anger as Thatcham field remains as preferred development site

Lower Way field remains in West Berkshire Council development document

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

Call for action by Thatcham Lower Way field campaigners

THE listing of Lower Way’s field as a preferred site for housing has caused disappointment and anger.  

Residents formed a campaign group to stop development on the field after the site appeared in West Berkshire Council’s housing site allocations development plan document last year.

Thousands of people objec-ted to the field being chosen following a consultation last year.

Nevertheless, the Lower Way field remains on the council’s final list of sites, published last week.

In a report, the council said that some 85 properties could be built on the field, which has a developable area of about three hectares.

It added that the site should be accessed via Lower Way and that a planning application should include two access roads. Thatcham’s settlement boundary should also to be moved to incorporate the Lower Way field.

Developer Persimmon Homes Thames Valley has expressed interest in building on the field, which forms part of the Thatcham Moors Nature Reserve and is located next to the Nature Discovery Centre.

However, the council has said that the development would not adversely affect the special area of conservation, rather that it would make a positive contribution to the West Berkshire Living Landscape project.

Campaigner Brian Ruddock said he was disappointed but not surprised about the listing.

He said that, as only one preferred option for Thatcham had been put forward, the council had not given itself opportunity to consider other sites.

“It seems it’s more palatable for them to take away green land in south Thatcham.

“Does a 2,400-signature petition not matter?

“Do legitimate pathways requests not matter?

“They’re ruining a lot of people’s access to the countryside in south Thatcham.”

Mr Ruddock said that development on one of Thatcham’s few green sites would be contrary to the council's policy.

Residents, wildlife trusts and historical societies have raised concerns about developing the field, with fears over more traffic and flooding, and the impact on the conservation site.    

“There’s so many issues you could raise about this. Vociferous objection will continue because none of them has been addressed,” Mr Ruddock said.

Thatcham town councillor Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, That-cham West) said that more than the some 900 homes needed in the town had been built and yet Thatcham was being asked to take more.

“It’s totally unnecessary. The field should be left alone,” he said. “It’s integral to the Nature Discovery Centre and another green space gone forever. I hope sense will prevail, but I’m not confident with this Tory administration.”

Mr Brooks added that, by including the site in the document, the council had made it easier for developers to build on the field.

“I’m pretty furious to see it still in... people will be very angry about this.”

The council said any planning application would be shaped by a landscape and visual impact assessment that would determine the design and number of homes that can be built.

It anticipated that any homes would be set back from the existing public rights of way to the east and west of the site.

Councillors are expected to approve the development plan document at a special meeting next Thursday, after which it will go out to consultation from November 9 until December 21. 

Campaigners are holding a public meeting at Precision Dental Studio off Pipers Way at 8pm tonight (Thursday).

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Article comments

  • Mairi

    06/11/2015 - 22:10

    Quite apart from , almost certainly, increasing flooding in the area, building on this site will increase the congestion in Thatcham. Traffic already backs up past this site in the morning rush hour, this will produce total gridlock in Thatcham. Everyone living there will either be heading into Newbury, at about 5 miles an hour,if they are lucky! or Reading, -more traffic in the other direction on Lower way, or towards Basingstoke, Yet more traffic trying to get over the level crossing,probably resulting in the whole of Station Road being backed up. Thatcham won't need car parks, it will just be one!

    Reply

  • ThatchamRezzer

    04/11/2015 - 09:09

    I live next to the field in question and think building here is a good idea. I prefer green open spaces, but if we need to build, we need to build. Being objective about the situation we're told we need the new housing and the surrounding area is already built up. I'd prefer building in my local field than in the fields (further away from me) next to Kennet Heath and the canal where it would definitely feel like encroaching on to green open space. Let's use this as an opportunity. An opportunity to improve the local primary school, develop footfall for the bowling alley, increase visitors to the NDC and sort out the flooding that does keep occurring on Lower Way, when it rains heavily. Without the development I can't see there being much interest in ploughing restricted financial resources into this long standing issue. Go for it. Build the houses, but I ask WBC commit to making improvements for the local community.

    Reply

  • JohnNewman

    03/11/2015 - 14:02

    This is an absolute joke. We have been let down by West Berkshire Council and they are single handily ruining our country side. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some 'back handed' money exchanges going on here.

    Reply

  • quadnewbury

    03/11/2015 - 09:09

    WBC, you are not listening AGAIN to the taxpayers who put you in power.If this stupid idea goes ahead it will ruin the Nature Discovery Centre and surrounding area, probably contribute to further flooding, and add to the already horrendous Thatcham level crossing problem. LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE FOR ONCE.

    Reply

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