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Councillors back Theale lakeside scheme

Council supports the scheme at appeal after it ran out of time to determine plans

Councillors back Theale lakeside scheme

WEST Berkshire Council will not oppose plans for more than 300 homes in Theale at an appeal.

Councillors backed Central Corporation Securities Ltd’s application for the homes at Lakeside, between The Green and the A4 on the edge of the village. 

Prolonged negotiations over money that the developer should pay led to the council running out of time to determine the 325-home scheme last year, leading the developer to launch an appeal. 

Council officers had recommended that the council adopt a supportive stance, due to the site already having planning permission for 350 homes and an office block, which were approved at appeal in 2007.

However, the recommendation angered Theale Parish Council and residents who had turned up to object at last Wednesday’s meeting.

Parish councillor David Wood said that the “huge development would increase the number of people living in the village by 30 per cent” and have a detrimental impact on infrastructure.

He added that the height of the proposed seven-bed extra-care unit would be out of keeping with the area and that traffic would worsen.

But the director of Central Corporation Securities, Malcolm McPhail, said that the new scheme was a vast improvement on the already-approved 350-home development, which he said was now a genuine fallback position. 

Mr McPhail argued that the scheme would open up the lake for public access, while traffic would be reduced because of new access arrangements.

He said the council’s request for £1.4m towards expanding a new primary school in the village would represent ‘double dipping’, as the developer had already contributed funds towards local infrastructure.

The council has secured £7m to fund a new primary school, which it says will meet existing demand without the homes at Lakeside.

Planning officer Bob Dray said that the £1.4m would fund an extension to accommodate the homes at Lakeside and was not double dipping.

He added that the 350-home scheme had been included in the council’s five-year housing supply and could go ahead at any time.

Supporting the plans, Keith Chopping (Con, Sulhamstead) said: “We have an existing permission for a scheme that’s truly ghastly.

“I was appalled when the ministry of whatever approved it. Anything that goes away from that should be supported.”

Theale’s district councillor Alan Macro (Lib Dem) could not attend, but a statement saying that the  development was not suitable for the edge of the village was read on his behalf.

Tim Metcalfe (Con, Purley-on-Thames) asked where people using the lake would park, but he was told that the detail would be provided should the plans be approved.

This was the answer also given to concerns about the design and height of the homes.

Referring back to 2007 when the plans were first mooted, Peter Argyle (Con, Calcot) repeated what he said at the time: “Theale is a village and could not sustain such a development – unfortunately an inspector disagreed with us and allowed it.

“I have great sympathy with residents and the parish and what they said… but we do have this extant permission and it’s a fallback position for them.

“It’s with reluctance that I will agree and go forward on this one.”

The application will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate later this year.

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