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West Berkshire Councillors accused of bowing to “bureaucratic pressure”

Claims come following approval of Coley Farm development

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Cold Ash planning - Col011 - cold ash hill

COUNCILLORS bowed to “bureaucratic pressure” when giving the go-ahead for developers to build 75 new homes on the northern edge of Newbury.

West Berkshire councillor for Cold Ash, Garth Simpson (Con, Cold Ash), made the claim after members of the district planning committee voted through controversial plans to develop the land at Coley Farm in Stoney Lane.

The site, just north of Kiln Road, which lies in Cold Ash parish, had been included the council’s list of preferred development sites, leaving councillors no choice but to approve the plans, despite objections from local residents, according to Mr Simpson.

Objectors had claimed that the project would have an unacceptable impact on the local countryside, while also posing a flooding risk to the area.

However, the impact on the local road network, which Mr Simpson described as a “nightmare”, was the biggest cause for objection.

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News this week, Mr Simpson said he was saddened by the decision, explaining that the site had initially been rejected by the council’s highways officers when it had first been considered for the local development plan.

“Members voted the site through under bureaucratic pressure to avoid departing from the local plan,” he said.

“The fact is highways did not like the site in November 2014, but planning overruled them.

“The impact on the landscape is going to be huge, while the traffic is already very, very bad.”

The council’s highways officers said in their most recent report that the impact on the local road network could not be classed as “severe” and therefore did not object to the plans.

It is estimated that 96 per cent of the traffic from the development will travel south from Stoney Lane on to the busy Kiln Road and Turnpike Road.

“The mini roundabout in Kiln Road is already very dangerous,” said Mr Simpson. “We will have injuries.”

Residents had also warned councillors over the dangers that the increase in traffic would bring during Thursday’s meeting.

However, committee chairwoman Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) reminded members that the council had just one year ago voted to approve the site for development by including it in the local plan.

After hearing arguments for and against, Richard Crumley (Con, Thatcham, Central) made a proposal that the committee members follow the officers’ recommendations and approve the site

Agreeing, Paul Bryant (Con, Speen) pointed to other ongoing planning applications, including those at Sandleford and Hungerford, saying: “If we are to refuse this application I think there are half-a-dozen other applications which will have to be refused.

“We have a requirement to provide so many houses that’s been laid on us by the Government and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“If we can’t provide those houses, it will be ruled by the Government’s planning inspector – not where we want to have it, not where the public want to have it, but where the inspector wants it.”

Putting the decision to the vote resulted in five votes for and five votes against the application, with chairwoman Hilary Cole ultimately casting the deciding vote in favour of the development.

The proposals from Donnington New Homes will see a mix of one-, two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes built on the 3.75-hectare site.

Forty per cent of the homes will be affordable.

The outline plans also include a total of 162 parking spaces and two access points on to Stoney Lane, which would also be widened in an effort to improve safety.

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Article comments

  • Oldmoaner

    22/12/2016 - 20:08

    What hypocrites, our rural rulers would throw this development out if a developer dared to try and build in Chieveley or certain parts of Shaw. This developer should be made to finance a new road through to the Vodafone roundabout so as his new residents can avoid the Robin Hood the same as the London Road Development. This is all part of WBC plans to dump it in Newbury and if our elected councilors could stay awake long enough they would make sure any development was well planned and suitable for the town. It is time to make developers accountable, they should not be allowed to milk every square mm of land for as much as they can and then leave their mess for the locals to live with. WBC are responsible and should be made to accept that responsibility or be appropriately dealt with when they fail. Merry Christmas.


    • boris

      23/12/2016 - 09:09

      Well said exactly that piece of land was left to mr norgate junior by his dad and he has been trying to get planning for years he would have just kept applying he is not interested in government targets or the people of newbury just how much money he can make that development is insane on the bigger picture what this country and government need is new towns as per bracknell Stevenage and Milton Keynes were along with all the infrastructure doctors schools dentist etc there are plenty of old military sites, with good planning and road infrastructure Would reduce are housing problems tagging on bits here and there causes massive problems for residents also stop people buying to let cutting out first time buyers who have it hard enough And yes the councillors are just a bunch of spineless old gimmers with too much time on there hands try building near where they live. No chance


      • juzzthefuzz

        23/12/2016 - 23:11

        Could you kindly explain where you would plan to build this new town? There certainly isn't much chance of that ever happening. West Berkshire as a whole is densely populated without a vast amount of space between towns and villages. As an area of NIMBY's, it would seem, it would be incredibly unlikely that any of the more rural communities in the area would allow such a development to take place. Take the proposal for Aldermaston Court for example. In all honesty, it's selfish. Besides this, with the economy as it is, where would you propose the capital be sourced from for such a project as a new town? Council budgets are currently stretched far enough, without having to contribute to the issue. Regardless of the pay back in new sources for council tax, there is no possibility the council could fund this. The remaining solution is progressive re-use of land already available. What choice is left when all the other means are being denied by the locals already.


        • boris

          24/12/2016 - 22:10

          i am not talking west berks i am talking nationwide i was brought up in bracknell it became a new town we did not live local moved there as my father got a job and a brand new house sometimes you have to move away from where you were born to have a better life own a house etc it is not just a case of nimbyism its about overcrowding not having to wait 2 weeks for a drs appointment


        • juzzthefuzz

          25/12/2016 - 01:01

          Its not always easy to move away from where you are born. Finding a job, I'm sure you'll agree, in this weak economic era is increasingly difficult, especially where house prices are affordable. Supply easily outweighs demand. A certain location, Llandarcy just outside of Neath in South Wales, is a prime example. Plenty of new houses at affordable prices, but few jobs in the area. Moving away would only be a better life if the conditions supported it. I do, however, understand your frustration regarding the Doctors appointments. The local government should be held accountable for the provision of these facilities and ensure that once a certain number of new builds passes a threshold, then the next large project put through planning apps will have to incorporate such facilities. On the contrary, the NHS budget is very limited at the moment, with no extra funding available. More surgeries could be built, but the GP's may not be available due to those studying medicine being in decline.


  • boris

    22/12/2016 - 13:01

    I am sure Hilary and Richard will be quite happy they wont be affected and donnington homes will make a bundle but people who live near the development will have to deal with the mayhem for years Stoney lane is not even a proper two way road but lets not that get in the way of greed of the builders lets just make peoples lives a misery cos we do not give a hoot about how we affect peoples lives we just want to make loads of money just arrogance on a monumental scale and as for the councillors you are a f.......... Joke


    • juzzthefuzz

      23/12/2016 - 01:01

      I would hardly call this an act of greed. Newbury needs homes, and as I have discussed with someone else, money should certainly be put aside for development of the infrastructure, widening of the road to allow a larger weight of traffic. However, the more and more housing projects are declined permission, the higher the housing price in the area gets, which displaces more and more people who have lived and grown up in the area. As the housing price increases, so will the benefits to counter-act the spiralling effect that minimal development comes hand in hand with. Benefits funded by the local councils. Money from their budget which will, in turn, mean that extra cash needs to be sought elsewhere, such as rises in council tax, parking price increases and so on. People can be as picky as they like when it comes to new developments, but when it all comes down to it, if not this site then where? Where are we going to place homes for the people who need them the most?