Wed, 25 Jan 2017
BURGHFIELD residents and West Berkshire Council have once again successfully thwarted a developer’s attempts to build homes in the village.
Gladman Developments’ plan to build up to 64 homes off Mans Hill – 25 of which would be affordable – has been thrown out at appeal, months after its attempt to build nearly 200 homes on the site was also dismissed.
West Berkshire Council turned down the application, saying it could demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing – a claim the developer questioned.
After a four-day inquiry in November, however, planning inspector Colin Ball sided with the council.
The site lies outside the village settlement boundary in what Mr Ball described as “extremely attractive countryside”.
Because of this characteristic, Mr Ball felt that the homes would be out of context with the rest of the village and “lead to an undesirable urbanisation of Mans Hill and a particularly insensitive and harmful change to the high-quality landscape setting of the village”.
Residents who had fought to save the site were thrilled that the plans had been turned down.
Major John Steeds, who spoke at the inquiry, said he was delighted with the result.
He said: “It may not be the most beautiful landscape in the world, but to us in the village it’s important, very important.
“We understand that and appreciate it and it must not be built on.”
Burghfield lies in the council’s East Kennet Valley planning area, where 800 homes have been identified to be built by 2026. The council had identified sites in Burghfield through its local plan, which did not include Mans Hill.
Gladman disputed whether sites across the district could be delivered on time, most notably Sandleford Park, but Mr Ball said that approving plans for Mans Hill would be premature and undermine the council’s plan-making process.
Major Steeds said that residents had supported the council’s land supply claim and that building at Mans Hill would be in the wrong place.
“We are not nimbys”, he said, “we know that a lot of houses have to be built, but that’s totally the wrong place. There are other sites in the village plan and this is totally outside of that.
“We are delighted, absolutely thrilled that it’s been turned down.”
Summing up, Mr Ball said that while the development would provide benefits to Burghfield, a failure to protect the natural environment would conflict with the council’s policy of protecting the countryside.
“The benefits of the proposal do not outweigh the harm it would cause and there are no other material considerations sufficient to indicate that the proposed development should not be refused,” he said.