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Concerns over plans for 350 homes near Newbury

HUGE concerns have been raised about plans to build up to 350 homes in a green gap between Hampshire and Newbury.

Housing developer Bewley Homes has put forward proposals to build the homes in Wash Water at the junction of Andover Road and the A34, just over the border in Basingstoke and Deane.

The Common Farm site – marketed as Watermill Bridge and bordered by the River Enborne to the north – is located on a floodplain, although most of where the housing would be built is in flood zone 1 – the lowest level.

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

The development will, Bewley Homes states, be a low carbon development, offering solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and air-source heat pumps for all houses, and using the “wetland and wet woodland as key features increasing species and habitat biodiversity”.

Forty per cent of the homes would be affordable, while there would also be allotments, a farm shop and a community building.

There are, however, currently no plans for a school, doctor’s surgery or any other infrastructure, and all traffic from the site would pour out onto Andover Road.

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

Chris Garrett, who has lived on Enborne Row just north of the river since the mid-nineties, said he had grave concerns over the scheme.

He said: “We’ve objected to the land use being changed from farm land to a housing development on a number of fronts, but largely because it’s on the flood plain.

“My garden and all those gardens along there flood to some extent every year.

“Right now my house doesn’t flood, but my garden does, and it’s not very far.

“There’s also the traffic – 350 cars coming out onto the A343.

“If Sandleford [a proposed 1,000 home development on Sandleford Park] happens, it’s going to be madness.”

Mr Garrett, who is also chairman of Enborne Parish Council, has set up a website called ‘Keep Wash Water Rural’ to rally objections to the scheme – which is currently in the consultation phase, ahead of a formal planning application being submitted.

The 68-year-old also voiced concerns that as the scheme is in Hampshire, it will be decided by Basingstoke and Deane councillors.

The borough currently has a housing shortage – around 850 houses need to be built every year until 2029 to meet the council’s target.

The Common Farm site was put forward as a potential housing site by the landowner in 2019 when the borough council put out a call for sites as part of its update to its 2011-2029 local plan.

The site was then included in the council’s Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA), which identifies sites “with realistic potential for future housing”.

Mr Garrett continued: “We’re concerned that it will be decided by Basingstoke and Deane by people who live a long way away and want to hit their housing quota.

“Everything will be decided by Basingstoke and Deane and all the problems will be in Newbury.”

The site is split between the East Woodhay and Highclere parishes in Hampshire.

Paul Hurst, chair of the East Woodhay neighbourhood plan steering group, said it was vital to maintain the green gap between Newbury and Woolton Hill.

He said: “There’s a real fear we’re seeing a nibbling away of the green gap between Newbury and Woolton Hill and developments are now starting to creep in to Woolton Hill.

“We have the Sandleford development and when we look at the whole picture we have this development which is almost stretching down to the Chase.

“In the neighbourhood plan we say we don’t need that level of development here.

“We’re also fearful we’re going way over the ability of our infrastructure to manage.”

To view the Watermill Bridge consultation, head to https://watermillbridge.co.uk/index.html.

To view Mr Garrett's opposition website, visit https://keepwashwaterrural.co.uk/.

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