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East Ilsley residents divided over ‘irresponsible’ housing development proposed on Pen Meadow

A proposed housing development has divided a village.

West Berkshire Council (WBC) previously refused two proposals to build houses on Pen Meadow in 2016 and 2017 as the area was not included in its local development plan.

But a new application to build 14 homes submitted by Manor Oak Homes (MOH) – which includes eight social/affordable houses – has sparked fresh fears among East Ilsley residents due to flooding, increased traffic, loss of visual amenity and an insufficient proportion of affordable housing.

Proposed layout of the new homes on Pen Meadow
Proposed layout of the new homes on Pen Meadow

Resident Brian Woodley supported the proposal, saying it would “provide opportunity for low-cost housing desperately needed in the village for younger people”.

“It appears sympathetically designed... and is well laid out in a location that causes the least impact on the wider area,” added Andrew Chandler.

But other residents disagree.

“As a young person in the village, I object to this proposal,” said Jack Morrisen.

“Housing is not what this village needs; work on the school or a village shop would be much more preferable.

“The A34 is loud enough as it is; why would anyone in their right mind want to live on what is effectively a motorway?”

In 2020, East Ilsley Parish Council (EIPC) conducted a survey which identified the need for eight affordable homes.

At a parish council meeting in July 2022, a Manor Homes representative confirmed control over the remaining meadow would pass to the parish council, including an area historically used for sheep fairs.

In an online statement, dated February 7, 2024, the council said: “In its current format, which meets the needs of the parish survey, we have agreed that Pen Meadow is an exception site and one which can meet the need of local villagers.

“The parish council is neither in favour of the development or against it.

“Indeed, there are different opinions on the council.”

Councillor Ima von Wenden has lived in East Ilsley for six years and heads the campaign group Save Pen Meadow, which has nearly 40 members.

A campaign is ongoing to block the proposed housing development. Credit: Amanda Dee
A campaign is ongoing to block the proposed housing development. Credit: Amanda Dee

“We’ve had this ongoing situation for about 10 years now,” she told newburytoday.

“When the new plans were published by the developers, they said they were acting with the full support of the parish council.

“I see this as an irresponsible and unsustainable development.

“We have never been earmarked for development by the local authority because we don’t have any infrastructure.

“Residents should get better infrastructure before any development on such a scale is built.”

In a letter to the senior planning officer, Carolyne Culver (Green, Ridgeway) said: “I would recommend the applicant asks for their money back from the consultant who wrote this report ([flood risk assessment).

“Since the first weekend of January, a property on the eastern boundary of the site has been pumping out their cellar.

“The proposed SUDs [drainage] scheme will be directly behind and at a higher elevation than their house.

“The Crown and Horns pub on the High Street was shut for several days in early January because the cellar flooded, and they lost several thousand pounds of stock.”

WBC’s parish flood reports indicate there was internal property flooding on the eastern boundary of the proposed development in 2014.

Ground water also emerged from cracks in the road which runs north of the meadow.

EIPC confirmed it plans to host MOH for a further consultation meeting.

The application will be decided by the western area planning committee on a date to be confirmed.

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