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Inquiry to decide on 400-home plan near Vodafone HQ starts next week

Campaigners and council will challenge developer's claims

Inquiry to decide on 400-home plan near Vodafone HQ starts next week

A PUBLIC inquiry that will determine whether 400 homes are to be built near Vodafone’s UK headquarters in Shaw-cum-Donnington will be held next week.

Developer Commercial Estates Group has appealed against West Berkshire Council refusing its plans for up to 401 homes on 87-acres of land owned by Genevieve Mather, to the north and west of Vodafone HQ.

A new primary school, bus services and a local centre are also included in the plans.

Access to the homes would come off the existing Vodafone roundabout on the A339, with the homes on both sides of the dual carriageway.

Councillors threw out the plans in 2015 at the recommendation of officers, who cited policy, traffic, sustainable methods of transport, design and a lack of developer’s contributions.

At the time Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) warned residents: “I do feel that for residents in and around the village this is merely a battle in a war that is going to come back to them.”

The warning has rung true as a public inquiry to determine the appeal will open at 10am on Tuesday, January 10, at West Berkshire Council’s offices in Market Street, Newbury.

The inquiry is scheduled to last eight days, finishing on Friday, January 20. 

CEG has argued that the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing supply and that its scheme would bring much-needed housing, a school and £2.1m to the local economy.

Residents rallied against the plans and formed the Donnington Valley Action Group to fight the proposals all the way to appeal.

The group said that the development would double the size of Shaw-cum-Donnington and put further strain on roads already struggling to cope with high traffic levels, particularly the A339 and Shaw Road.

Member Ian Miller said: “Our arguments are much the same as before and in support of West Berkshire Council’s sites plan, with North Newbury not being an approved site and without sufficient infrastructure to support the development.”

A similar scheme, but to build 2,000 homes in the area, was considered within West Berkshire Council’s core strategy as an alternative to Sandleford Park, but was ruled out.

CEG had also looked at building 750 homes on the site but said it had scaled down the plans after concerns were raised during a consultation process.

Provision for a hotel on the site was also dropped.

Once the evidence has been presented at the inquiry, the Planning Inspectorate will rule on the appeal in the weeks after.

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Article comments

  • Oldmoaner

    06/01/2017 - 14:02

    I believe this is the right place if West Berkshire needs more houses and I think they do especially for young families, this is the place it should start. What infrastructure we have has been developed to the north of Newbury so they must make use of it. With right planning controls (if that is possible with WBC) this area could develop into a really nice architectural price winning rural development. With access only onto the A339 it would not impact on Shaw or Donnington. I have said before that any developers on this side should contribute to a new road from Vodafone to Tull way. This would allow traffic from the east to access the north A34 and M4 without travelling through Newbury.

    Reply

  • paulGT11

    06/01/2017 - 12:12

    The development should be accepted PROVIDING that a significant number of affordable houses are included in the development, which has not been mentioned at all in the article. Drainage will also need to be a big consideration as the surrounding higher ground will drain into that patch of land.

    Reply

  • boris

    06/01/2017 - 12:12

    Commercial estates get the brown envelopes ready

    Reply

  • NoisyNortherner

    06/01/2017 - 10:10

    The uncomfortable truth for Newbury is that it may well come down to choosing the least problematic of several imperfect proposals in order to guarantee a housing supply for the forseeable future. If all planning applications are refused, it's only a matter of time before the government steps in and all semblance of control at a local level evaporates.

    Reply

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