RESIDENTS in Midgham say they have been let down by West Berkshire Council’s planning process after an application to turn a neighbouring light industrial unit into a commercial van sales and repair unit was granted.
Plans to allow vehicle servicing, repair, valeting and MOT testing and servicing at Sabre House on the A4 were given the green light by the council’s eastern area planning committee last week.
The move comes after a bitter two-year battle between residents and site owner Anchor Vans Ltd.
The homeowners now say they have been left despondent after the plans were approved, despite the application receiving 73 letters of objection, stating noise, odour and traffic safety as just some of the reasons the proposals should not go ahead.
Midgham Parish Council also objected to the plans, arguing that Sabre House was not a preferred site by the council for B2 general industrial use.
However, at the meeting last Wednesday, councillors approved the scheme, citing the economic and employment benefits the proposals would bring to the area.
Members agreed to attach a number of conditions to the application in an attempt to mitigate the impact on nearby homes, the closest of which lies just five metres from the site.
Despite the conditions, objector Howie Silver said: “This is the start of Midgham becoming part of Padworth and Colthrop. It goes against the council’s own planning strategy.
“We feel like we have just been banging our heads against a brick wall for two years. We shouldn’t have to have heavy industry next door.
“We just want to live in peace. We live in rural West Berkshire – we just feel like we’ve been fobbed off, it’s just so disappointing.”
The homeowners say they feel particularly let down by ward councillor Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) who had up until recently promised residents his support in objecting to the application.
“Obviously council tax payers don’t have as many rights as business rate payers,” added Mr Silver.
A spokesperson for Anchor Group Companies said the decision was good news for the local economy, as they had already recruited 10 staff who had recently been made redundant after City Motor Holdings Ltd entered administration.
He added: “Sabre House has provided engineering jobs on the A4 at Midgham for over 45 years. The site has long been earmarked by the authority for employment use and objectors behind the site bought their houses for a discount knowing this.
“A previous owner’s planning application for an additional nine executive houses on the site had already been declined following local opposition to the scheme.
“This planning approval represents the continued business use of an established industrial site and will create 40 new jobs.”
Following the meeting, Mr Boeck said: “I’m pleased to see that Anchor Vans is growing and adding to the vibrancy of West Berkshire’s economy, but their neighbours in Midgham have been disturbed by the activity in the Sabre House branch.
“I called for certain conditions to be applied to Anchor Vans’ planning application at a council planning committee meeting last week and I hope that will help to ease the neighbours’ concerns.”