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Backlash over plans for 350 homes on floodplain near Newbury

“IT’S called Wash Water for a reason.”

Those were the words of one concerned Wash Water resident as almost 100 people gathered at The Woodpecker Inn to organise their opposition to proposals to build up to 350 homes on floodplains next to the A343.

Property developer Bewley Homes is undertaking a pre-application consultation on plans to build the homes at the junction of Andover Road and the A34, bordered by the River Enborne to the north and approximately 50 metres inside the Hampshire border.

The proposed site in Wash Water. (49895241)
The proposed site in Wash Water. (49895241)

The homes will be 40 per cent affordable and will be low carbon, with solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and air-source heat pumps for all houses – an environmentally-friendly alternative to gas boilers.

However, the plans – titled Watermill Bridge – have been met by a backlash by residents of the surrounding areas including Wash Water, Enborne, Woolton Hill and Wash Common.

Of particular concern to the residents is the increased risk of flooding, the inability of nearby infrastructure such as schools or doctors’ surgeries to cope with the number of people and the effect of the development on traffic, with the only access road out of the site leading on to the A343.

The proposed site in Wash Water. (49895243)
The proposed site in Wash Water. (49895243)

Introducing the meeting last Tuesday evening, Jamie Berry, one of the organisers of the campaign group ‘Keep Wash Water Rural’, said: “We’re here to stop it, not compromise.

“We’re here to say no to developing that field at any point in any way.”

Fellow organiser Chris Garrett, who lives on Enborne Row, said: “We don’t want to give them any mitigation – we just want to say no.

“Not in any form, it’s not appropriate.

“This is an essential part of the floodplain and it directly protects those upstream and downstream from river flooding.

“There is no provision in this for infrastructure – surgeries are already struggling to cope, and all these people will be going in to Newbury.

“There’s no safe way to walk from the site to Woolton Hill or Burghclere, you’re not going to walk down the A343 to The Chase.”

The Woodpecker Inn landlady Emma Winter however was more ambivalent.

Mrs Winter, who’s been landlady of the pub for the past year, said: “I have to sit on the fence on it.

“As a business I’m rubbing my hands together for the extra business but as a Wash Water resident I would be as worried about where the water is going as everybody else.”

Bewley Homes will be doing a public exhibition on Thursday, September 2, from 3pm to 7pm at The Woodpecker Inn.

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