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Hermitage development is on hold as plan is rejected

Application for 37-home scheme in village branded 'disappointing' by planners

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Hermitage development is on hold as plan is rejected

A DEVELOPER says it is considering its next steps after its plans to build a 37-home housing estate in Hermitage were turned down.

The application from CALA Homes, was branded “disappointing” by West Berkshire Council planners as the proposals were rejected last week.

According to a planning report, the controversial plans failed to conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in which the development would be situated, while highways officers had also raised concerns over an increase in traffic.

Potential drainage issues arising from the proposed homes on land off Charlotte Close were also highlighted.

Responding to the decision, a CALA spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the decision, which relates to an allocated residential site in the Development Plan.

“We completed various studies, including a detailed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, as part of the application, which demonstrate that our proposal is suitable for the site and its surroundings.

“In particular, the proposal would provide a mix of new homes and much-needed affordable housing in Hermitage, within a high-quality development.

“We will review the council’s decision in detail before deciding our next steps.”

The application garnered heavy criticism from residents, with 75 letters of objection lodged.

Hermitage Parish Council had also criticised the plans, with claims that the developer had largely ignored their recommendations made during the pre-application consultation.

Council clerk Nicola Pierce said: “Hermitage Parish Council accepts the need for housing development, but will always do what it can to make sure it is suitable for a site in the AONB and fits within the village setting, includes sufficient safe play space, enough parking provision for an area with limited public transport links and the safety of all road users.”

The site behind the White Horse pub has been earmarked for development by West Berkshire Council in its Development Plan Document, although the council wants just 15 homes built on the land.

In a planning report, the officer states the principle of development on the site is acceptable, but points out that any development must “still comply with the development plan”.

The officer writes: “For development in the AONB, this means that development needs to be genuinely landscape-led, respond positively to its local context and conserve and enhance the AONB.

“These proposals do not meet that requirement.

“For a site such as this, particularly where the applicant was fully involved in the development plan process and received extensive planning advice repeatedly, this is especially disappointing.”

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