Wed, 13 Feb 2019
LOCAL people will not get preferential treatment at a flagship affordable homes scheme.
The issue was raised at a full meeting of Hungerford Town Council on Monday, when the proposed development at Coldharbour Road was discussed.
But some councillors were disappointed to be told that reserving places for town residents could be seen as tantamount to “social cleansing”.
The site will be one of the first to be developed under a new joint project by Sovereign Housing and West Berkshire Council.
As revealed by this newspaper in November last year, the association wants to build eight homes on the site of the former Chestnut Walk care home, which was forced to close after falling victim to West Berkshire Council’s far-reaching cuts to public services in 2016/17.
The building, which once housed a community, is now abandoned and at risk of becoming derelict, according to neighbours.
District councillor Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) gave an update to the full council in which he said: “I’ve had discussions today with West Berkshire Council and I’m told a planning application will be submitted in March.
“One or two people in Priory Avenue might object, but, at the end of the day, I think most people in this room are in favour of some sort of development on the site and this would be low-cost housing.”
Councillor Denise Gaines asked: “What do we get from this for our residents? Do they get first choice on those homes?”
Town mayor Helen Simpson agreed: “It would have been nice to have had them for Hungerford people.”
But Mr Hewer replied: “No. That’s almost social cleansing and it simply won’t work. There is a points system.”
Mrs Gaines said: “I understand that – but we’ve lost a really good facility.
“Housing is a really good idea, but I’m curious to know what Hungerford gets out of it.
“West Berkshire Council is giving up the land to Sovereign.”
Mr Hewer replied: “It’s a partnership between the [district] council and Sovereign.
“At the end of the day we’ll get eight houses.
“It’s on a brownfield site; the facility was falling down and needed huge investment.
“As far as what West Berkshire Council gets out of it, though, I couldn’t tell you.”
The council heard that the new homes – which will be built off site and transported to Coldharbour Road – could be ready by summer if planning permission is granted.
The homes will be among the first to be built under the joint venture between West Berkshire Council and Sovereign Housing.
Sovereign Housing spokesman Tim Abbott said previously: “Chestnut Walk in Hungerford has been identified as one of the first sites that will be developed by this joint venture, pooling our land, investment and skills to replace a disused care home with eight new and affordable homes.”