Councillors divided on plans for 75-home Coley Farm estate
Newbury and Cold Ash councils reach opposing views on Shaw development
THERE are conflicting views over plans for 75 new homes in Shaw after two neighbouring councils came to opposing conclusions on the development.
Newbury town councillors gave their backing to the scheme at a meeting this week, after receiving assurances from developer Donnington New Homes that the site would improve drainage, make roads safer and deliver much-needed new homes to the area.
If approved, the application would see the homes built on Coley Farm, just off Stoney Lane, situated yards from the busy Turnpike Road.
However, parish councillors in neighbouring Cold Ash, in whose parish the development would lie, have slammed the plans, saying they were “fundamentally opposed to developing the site”, which last year was identified as one of West Berkshire Council’s preferred sites for housing in its Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD).
The plans propose access from Stoney Lane, part of which the developer says would be widened, as well as the creation of a wildflower meadow and a local play area.
During Monday’s meeting of Newbury Town Council planning and highways committee, representatives from Donnington New Homes explained to members how, as well as improving the road network by widening Stoney Lane, the development would also improve drainage on the site and upgrade the existing pedestrian links to the existing open space.
The developer also reaffirmed its commitment to providing 40 per cent affordable homes on the site. Pointing to developments in the past, which had initially included affordable homes in the application but which had ultimately not been built, Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) asked for reassurance that the homes would be included.
The managing director of Donnington New Homes, Mark Norgate, replied: “I don’t approve of that particular approach of people who have promised affordable homes in our home town and not delivered. What’s different with us is that we own the land."
He added: “There’s no possible way that the inclusion of affordable housing could render this unviable.”
Mr Beck said: “Although this proposed development actually lies within the parish of Cold Ash, it is slap bang on the border of Newbury town. The effect of this development will be felt by people on Clay Hill and the surrounding area, far greater than the residents of Cold Ash.
“I feel the proposed development, with the assurances we have received this evening with regard to the highways layout, affordable homes and drainage protection, will be a sound development. Therefore I would suggest we make no objection, but make reference to these assurances we have been given.”
Margo Payne (Con, Clay Hill) added her approval of the plans saying: “I’m in total agreement. It’s been well thought-out and I think it’s a good, sound development.”
As a result, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.
However, last Tuesday, Cold Ash parish councillors said they were fundamentally opposed to developing the site and have objected to its inclusion in the DPD. Speaking at a meeting last week, the district councillor for Cold Ash, Garth Simpson (Con) criticised the sole access point and the poor attempts to combat flooding. He said the developers were relying on transporting water off the site and draining it elsewhere.
He said: “That’s bad practice. If we have a bad downpour, you are going to overwhelm it. They are going to have to review it.”
Mr Simpson, who is West Berkshire’s lead councillor for transport, also said that the narrow Stoney Lane was a dangerous place for traffic.
“This site really does need two accesses,” he said, adding that traffic backing up from the entrance would be bad news.
More bad news was that traffic would head to “the other dreaded roundabout” in Newbury – the double mini-roundabouts at Shaw Hill and Kiln Road.
“It’s a roundabout system that’s totally stressed to death. I’m very concerned. I don’t think it’s going to work,” Mr Simpson said.