Sun, 24 Apr 2016
Greenham Parish Council has added its voice to objections to a proposed development at one of Newbury’s ‘last green gaps’.
Developer Rivar submitted proposals for a 157-home development on fields north of Pinchington Lane earlier this month.
Last week, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust raised concerns on the impact on great crested newts which are protected species and inhabit the proposed green gap site.
West Berkshire Council, meanwhile, had already identified the land as ripe for development in its Housing Site Allocation Development Plan Document (DPD) recently, despite a covenant in place protecting the land from development.
At a Greenham Parish Council meeting held last Wednesday, parish councillors warned of overdevelopment if the district council gives the thumbs up for the project in light of the planned 2,000 homes at Sandleford and the ongoing 1,500-home Racecourse Development.
Steve Westbrook said that the planned development was “excessive”.
He told councillors: “We do need to build houses, but it seems there is a lot in Greenham. This is a very large development and we have taken quite a lot of development already.
“In an ideal world I would not like to see any development there, but in a pragmatic world I would like to have less houses.
“Greenham has taken a lot of building and why should we give up our green spaces?
“This is another encroachment on our boundary and I think it’s excessive.”
Councillor Arthur Johnson added: “Why don’t we ask them not to build the thing in the first place? I don’t want it.
“We are getting less and less green space in Greenham.”
Chairman Phil Barnett agreed: “It should always be a green area; a green gap between Newbury and Greenham.
“Clearly the gap is narrow, but they obviously want to try to maximise the land there.”
Greenham resident Steve Larkins also attended the meeting to deliver his own objection in person.
He said at the meeting: “What we are seeing is the gradual urbanisation of what is a semi-rural community.
“Every time there are these huge housing development, they always seem to be centred on the south east of Newbury.
“It’s time that other districts in West Berkshire started to take the brunt of some of these developments.
“We all know that the infrastructure in Greenham can’t sustain this level of development.
“We have got 3,500 new homes already planned for south east Newbury. Isn’t that enough? Quite frankly, it’s enough.”
He also raised fears of a blurring of the boundary between Newbury and Greenham as the last gap between the two settlements.
Councillor Ernie Hicks, however, pointed to the need for housing locally.
He said: “The reality is people need homes and if they need homes at least address the issue of how to build these homes.
“Don’t just build a massive concrete jungle; build a nice green space around it.
“This is an opportunity here to give younger people a prospect of getting a place. We must look to the future of that generation. They need these houses.
“We are the dead generation, we have got our houses. Unfortunately the future generation aren’t going to have this luxury unless councils get together and say, okay, we can build better houses.”
Regardless, the parish council voted by a majority to object to the proposal and West Berkshire Council will next determine the application at a later date.
On Monday, Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee unanimously voted in favour of objecting to the development on the grounds of over-development and impact on the local road network.
Councillors also blasted Rivar for ‘misleading’ environmental and traffic statements, with John Gardner (St John’s ward) saying: “We cannot agree to something like this until we know what traffic from other developments is going to be.”
The committee also expressed concern about a legal covenant on the site which states it should only be used for ‘recreational use’.