Mon, 26 Sept 2016
IT will cost almost £11m to deliver the additional two access roads from the 2,000-home Sandleford Park development that West Berkshire Council says is essential to avoid Newbury grinding to a standstill by 2036.
The council previously said that the district’s largest-ever housing development, in south Newbury, could be served by just two roads on to Monks Lane.
It now admits having four roads into the site – two via Monks Lane, one from the A339 and another via the A343 at Warren Road – is vital.
The council has recently managed to secure £2.9m of the £10.9m it needs via the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership.
It hopes that the reminder of the money will come from a combination of private development contributions (£7.06m), Newbury College (£0.6m) and council funds (£0.4m).
But there could be a problem.
Bloor Homes, the main developer, has made it clear on several previous occasions that it believes Sandleford can work with just two access roads.
West Berkshire Council’s opposition leader, Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale), said: “It is going to be a bit of a disaster if funding is not found for the extra two accesses.
“Everything I have seen suggests we really do need four access roads, which is what residents have always said.
“The council now realises that this is the case.
“I just really wish they had listened at the time.
“Because of its previous claim that Sandleford could work with two access roads, it looks like the council may be struggling to get the developer to fund the other two roads. I fear we could get in the situation where the council would refuse planning permission and it could go to appeal.”
When the Newbury Weekly News asked whether the A339 access could still be achieved without developer funding, the council declined to comment, saying it would be ‘inappropriate’ to do so.
No one from Bloor Homes was available for comment, despite repeated attempts by the NWN to contact them.
The council has conceded that the new Highwood Copse Primary School – which will be built as part of the proposed development – will not be able to reach its full capacity until the access onto the A339 is delivered.
Bloor Homes submitted the planning application in December 2015 with the view that permission would be granted in spring 2016.
However, Bloor has now asked the council if it can have until December 2016 to rectify several issues with the application.
Bloor had originally hoped to start work early next year and have 80 homes built by the end of 2018.
There could be another potential stumbling block in regards to the access roads – the land needed to deliver the access roads from both the A339 and A343 is owned by third parties.
The land for the A339 access is owned by Newbury College and the land for the A343 access by Newbury-based Donnington New Homes, the other main Sandleford Park developer.
The council says that negotiations are ongoing between the parties, but have not yet reached a conclusion.
In its business case put forward for LEP funding, the council says: “The developer funding is part committed and part under negotiation due to other factors playing a role where the timescales are not aligning to provide certainty at this point in time.
“All developer funding will be subject to separate legal agreements to secure which will be drawn up as soon as reasonably practicable."