Wed, 19 Jun 2019
COUNCIL planners have been tasked with breaking the deadlock of the proposed development at Sandleford Park.
Developers Donnington New Homes and Bloor Homes have submitted plans for 1,500 homes – 500 and 1,000 respectively – on land under their control off Monks Lane and Andover Road.
West Berkshire Council has insisted that Sandleford should be covered by one application and planned as a single site.
It refused two separate applications in 2017, saying that the two developers “had not delivered on assurances they gave us that they would work together on one cohesive plan”.
But documents uploaded from the council’s transport policy team leader, Jenny Graham, said she was aware that the authority had “agreed the principle of de-coupling the two outline planning applications… and that the details of how this will work are being developed in order that a comprehensive and joined up delivery of the site is achieved”.
Sandleford was accepted as a strategic housing site in 2012 and the Sandleford supplementary planning document (SPD) was amended in 2015 to “reflect the need for a single planning application for the site” to “ensure that the site is comprehensively delivered, with timely and well-planned provision of infrastructure”.
The comments were questioned by Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common) at a meeting of the council’s executive on May 30.
But in response, executive member for housing Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said that a decision had not been made and that it remained a live issue under consideration.
The two applications for Sandleford are amended resubmissions of plans that were refused by West Berkshire Council in 2017.
Among more than 20 reasons for refusal, the council said that there was a lack of detail for such a large development.
It added that questions remained over Sandleford’s impact on Newbury, including education and traffic.
The two developers signed a memorandum of understanding “setting out who brings what to the party” in terms of infrastructure following the council’s refusal.
But Mrs Cole said that it had “proven difficult” for the two owners and developers to reach an agreement.
“The council is not allowed to simply refuse to accept two separate applications for consideration, if that is what the applicants choose to do,” she said.
“That doesn’t automatically mean, however, that two applications can be a successful route to an approved development, but rather than allow the administrative process to stifle new housing, which is needed, officers have asked the developers to consider how it would be possible to secure one holistic development from two separate planning applications.”
“I’m a little confused by your response,” Mr Abbs replied.
“You talk about it not being separated, but towards the end you say they are allowed to.
“I thought the strategic plan specifically had the two things linked together, so have they been separated or not?”
Mrs Cole replied: “They have not been separated at the moment. It’s a live issue under consideration.
“Officers are speaking to both developers and it is our intention that we need to deliver Sandleford as a holistic development.
“From my point of view, it doesn’t matter to me if we have one or two applications as long as they meet the strict criteria that is laid down in the Sandleford SPD.”
In her submission, Mrs Graham raised concerns that a complete de-coupling could affect how some “travel aspects could be achieved to ensure efficiency and the successful delivery of the original aims of this allocated development site”.