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Floating homes inquiry delayed again

Flooding concerns push hearing back again

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Application for floating homes near Theale submitted

A PUBLIC inquiry into building floating homes in West Berkshire has been pushed back for the second time.  

Berfield Ltd’s bid to build the 24 Can-Float homes, along with 201 conventional homes, at Theale Lake has been delayed again following further concerns about flooding. 

West Berkshire Council refused the company’s application in 2017, saying that the development would lie in a high flood risk area.

It added that the housing was not required in the east of the district and that the Can-Float homes would urbanise the lake. 

Berfield, a joint venture company owned equally between Larkfleet Group Limited and Floodline Developments Limited, said the council’s refusal had lost the community around £60m.

It appealed the council’s refusal and an inquiry began in September last year. 

However, the inquiry was postponed on the first day, following last-minute information provided by the Environment Agency, which said that the conventional homes would be built in a high-risk flood zone. 

The homes were previously thought to be a low-risk zone, but following re-modelling work of the area, the Environment Agency said that it may not be possible for some areas of the scheme to go ahead. 

The inquiry resumed last month, but has been pushed back again.

A council spokesman said: “The pause is to allow all of the parties, including the Environment Agency, to prepare further evidence on flood risks.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “It is normal for the Environment Agency to be consulted in the planning process.

“We are an interested party to this inquiry regarding flood risk from rivers.”

The inquiry will resume on May 13.

Can-Float homes are designed to adapt to changing water levels during periods of flooding, with the developers saying they are an innovative way to increase housing stock in areas usually unsuitable for normal homes.

The scheme also comprised a new vertical lift bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal, flood alleviation works and new facilities for Burghfield Sailing Club.  

The plans received 328 letters of objection and 28 in support.

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