Concern over cumulative impact of Thatcham housing scheme
West Berkshire Council cites need for more school places and green space to meet demand
THE impact of 75 new homes in Thatcham has been questioned by West Berkshire Council.
Bloor Homes Southern wants to build the homes on land east of Tull Way and north of the Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, 40 per cent of which will be affordable.
The development would be accessed off Tull Way. The scheme also includes flood alleviation works to the south of the site and public open space at the western edge.
Commenting on the application, West Berkshire Council officers have laid out their concerns for the development’s impact on the town.
The council’s grounds maintenance manager, Stewart Souden, has objected, saying that the area set out as public open space does not best meet Thatcham’s needs.
Mr Souden said: “Thatcham parish has a relative abundance of public open space. What Thatcham needs, however, is more areas for outdoor sport.
“There is an opportunity here to provide another sports pitch instead of just an informal open space area that could be serviced from the adjacent Henwick Worthy sports ground. That site cannot currently cope with demand for pitches at peak times.”
Mr Souden said that his objection could be overcome, however, if a sports pitch were built on land to the south of the homes, instead of the public area proposed to the west.
The impact of the new homes is also causing concern in the council’s education team.
Strategic commissioning and compliance team leader Fiona Simmonds said that 27 primary and 12 secondary school pupils were anticipated from the development.
The council is awaiting the outcome of a planning appeal after it turned down plans for 265 homes near Heath Lane and Cold Ash Hill.
Mrs Simmonds said there were concerns on the cumulative impact on schools in the event of the council losing the appeal.
“The secondary catchment school [Trinity] will struggle to accommodate catchment pupils once the higher primary year groups reach the secondary phase, within the next three to four years,” Mrs Simmonds said.
The council’s highways officers said that the layout of the development would need to be revised before it could recommend approval.
The site, classed as greenfield and within the town boundary, was not listed as a preferred option for development in the council’s development plan document (DPD).
Bloor Homes said that the DPD only looked at sites outside of settlement boundaries and that the sustainable location was suitable for development.
More than 30 objections from residents have been received by the council.
The application will be determined at a planning committee should the council recommend approving the plans. A decision was due on May 31.