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Council's 'preferred' development sites approved

Planning inspector finds development document for 1,600 homes sound

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

‘PREFERRED’ sites identified for development by West Berkshire Council have been backed by the Government.

The council’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document (HSA DPD), which identifies 27 sites across the district for building 1,600 homes, was approved by planning inspector David Hogger this week.  

Proposals include 100 homes to be built between Bath Road, Lambourn Road and the A34 in Speen, along with approximately 87 homes on Thatcham’s Lower Way field, 140 homes for the former Pirbright Institute at Compton and 100 properties on land adjoining Pondhouse Farm, Clayhill Road, Burghfield Common.

The council’s executive member for planning, Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley), said: “This is excellent news. At a time when many authorities are failing the examination process, the West Berkshire plan has been approved. 

“This will mean that the council can include allocated sites in the HSA DPD as part of the five-year land supply.

“In addition, the HSA DPD includes new policies to ensure only appropriate development takes place in the countryside and revised parking standards.”

The council asked the inspector to consider a number of modifications to change the originally-submitted plan during the course of the examination, in order to address some of his concerns. The modifications were subject to public consultation and Mr Hogger has recommended their inclusion.

Thousands of residents objected to sites listed in the document, raising concerns stretching from traffic to flooding and environmental issues to appropriateness.

However, Mr Hogger said the focus of his report was on the soundness of the council’s submitted plan rather than on individual objections.

He said that the council was fully aware of local residents’ views and that the statutory consultation had been undertaken in accordance with the relevant regulations.

A number of sites in the DPD have already been granted planning permission by the council. 

Only last week, the council gave its backing to 100 homes in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty off Salisbury Road in Hungerford and have already approved others sites in Cold Ash, Pangbourne and Greenham.

Again, Mr Hogger said it was not appropriate for him to comment on detailed proposals.

He also ruled that the council’s approach to allocating housing in the AONB was justified. 

Delays to the 2,000-home proposed development at Sandleford was also mentioned in the DPD.

Mr Hogger said that a number of concerns had been raised over the development’s delivery and the consequence the delays may have in terms of housing supply. 

In his report, Mr Hogger said: “It is correct that progress on bringing the site forward has been slower than originally anticipated.

“Nevertheless, the council is clearly in continuing discussions with the developers and agents and has undertaken its own work to help secure delivery.

“A deadline of November 2017 has been agreed for the completion of further work in support of the proposal and the council is confident that a resolution to the outstanding issues will be achieved.”

The inspector’s approval means that the council can now adopt the document at a meeting on Tuesday, May 9.

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