Fri, 06 Jan 2017
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.