DEVELOPERS of the proposed Sandleford Park scheme have been accused of “holding Newbury to ransom” as discussions over the 2,000- home project continue to stall.
During last Monday’s meeting of Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee, vice-chairman John Gardner criticised Sandleford developers Bloor Homes and Donnington New Homes, claiming delays to the vast development could affect the future planning of Newbury.
Members were discussing the recent approval of a separate 401-home development around the Vodafone headquarters in Donnington, north Newbury.
The development was granted permission on appeal by the planning inspector after delays to the Sandleford scheme.
West Berkshire Council revealed that without the scheme progressing it no longer had a five-year land supply – as required by Government planning policy.
Discussing the Donnington development, Mr Gardner (Lib Dem, St John) said: “It’s clear from the recent inspector’s report Sandleford has an impact on appeals and may continue to have an impact on appeals one way or another.
“We need some information from Bloor and Donnington New Homes.
“At the moment they are holding us to ransom as far as planning future development in Newbury.”
The Sandleford Park development, if approved, would be the largest housing development seen in West Berkshire.
However, some key issues, including the number of access roads needed to the site, remain unresolved.
In February, it was revealed a decision on the applications has been delayed indefinitely as the developers and council planners remain locked in discussions.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Miles Evans (Con, Victoria) said the delays were frustrating for residents as well the town council.
He added: “To have this hanging over them for this length of time with no decision is unacceptable.”
However, committee chairman Anthony Pick (Con, St Johns), who also sits on West Berkshire Council, said that with the extra 401 homes at Vodafone now approved, the district council’s five-year land supply should be secured.
He said: “Hopefully it provides us with protection against further developers who go to appeal and say West Berkshire doesn’t have the five-year land supply.”
Mr Pick also pointed out that there was little more the committee could do, having already backed West Berkshire Council’s view that the Sandleford development should be served by four access roads.
Mr Gardner said: “I’m not sure what the hold up is.
“There’s three applications in limbo somewhere.
“What’s happened to them?”
Committee members suggested writing to both West Berkshire Council and Bloor Homes to air their views.
However, Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria) expressed concern, saying: “It might have some affect on whatever negotiations West Berkshire are having with the developer at the moment.
“I know we are an independent council but...”
Mr Pick as committee chairman resolved to discuss the possibility of writing to West Berkshire Council and the developers with the town council’s chief executive.