Say No to Sandleford group says it 'can't afford' to lodge a High Court appeal after government's ruling on Newbury development
The protest group trying to stop the 1,000-home development at Sandleford says the Government’s decision to allow planning permission is entirely political.
Dr David Cooper of Say No To Sandleford says the Government’s over-ruling of West Berkshire Council’s rejection of the scheme is down to developer Bloor Homes being a substantial donor to the Tory Party.
John Bloor, 77, a director of Bloor Homes who has a £1.3bn personal fortune, is one of the Conservative Party’s largest donors.
But Dr Cooper has ruled out a High Court appeal from the group, saying: “We only have £340 in the bank, so we can’t afford it.”
“It’s entirely a political decision,” he added. “I think unfortunately the Conservatives are pandering to their large donors, one of which happens to be Bloor Homes, which is running this development.
“I think it is immensely destructive to the environment around Newbury and to our priceless countryside. It is completely unnecessary.”
Outline planning permission for more than 1,000 homes, a new primary school and parkland is now given, although detailed planning consent on the make up of those homes and various access points is yet to be determined.
Local residents said they were “pleased a decision had finally been taken”, but others were “saddened” and “angry’ about the loss of the green open space and ancient woodlands.
The Bloor Homes section of the site is to the north of the plot allocated for around 2,400 homes by West Berkshire Council in 2010.
A spokesperson from Bloor Homes said: “We are very pleased with the secretary of state’s decision to support the Local Plan allocation at Sandleford Park by allowing the appeal for 1,000 homes and supporting infrastructure to go ahead.
“The proposals will deliver a considerable package of facilities, including the whole of the planned country park, a new primary school, off-site highways improvements, local centre, an 80-bed care home and improvements to Park House Secondary School.
“The scheme will also provide a range of types of housing, including 40 per cent affordable homes in line with the council’s policies.
“We hope to work closely with West Berkshire Council and all relevant parties to ensure the delivery of a high-quality development going forward.”
West Berkshire Council has said that it is “disappointed” with the decision.
But Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook), the executive member for planning, transport and countryside at the council, added: “However, in order to provide a sustainable urban extension to the south of Newbury, the council is actively seeking and will continue to engage positively with the landowners/developers and interested parties on moving the site forward.”
The site has two other large housing developments pending.