Tue, 15 Aug 2017
HUNGERFORD Town Council is now fighting a battle on four fronts over its opposition to 100 new homes off Salisbury Road.
Meanwhile, there is a nail-biting wait to hear if a judge will allow the fight to take place at all, as the Government seeks to torpedo the bid.
The latest developments were outlined at an extraordinary meeting of the full town council, attended by interested members of the public, on Monday night.
In April, developer CALA homes and Wates Developments won permission for the development, to the east of Salisbury Road, in the face of fierce opposition from the town council, many residents and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty group.
The town council unanimously voted to seek a judicial review of the decision to approve the district council’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document.
That will focus on whether due process was followed.
At Monday’s meeting, town mayor Keith Knight said: “All interested parties can voice objections to our application [for judicial review].
“The Government has been looking at it and the Secretary of State has put forward reasons why our judicial review application shouldn’t proceed.
“West Berkshire Council forwarded similar arguments.
“Then, in the last couple of weeks, the developers weighed in as well.
“So that’s the Government, West Berkshire Council, CALA Homes and Wates Developments all joining forces against us.
“Four against one doesn’t seem very fair but I suppose it’s all up to the judge.”
Mr Knight also revealed that the process was taking longer than anticipated as many of the judiciary have gone on holiday.
Deputy mayor Helen Simpson referred to the fact that the original application involved 5.1 hectares, which was subsequently changed to 7.1 hectares, and said: “The mayor and myself met with Cold Ash Parish Council recently.
“They said they had had similar levels of increase [in the scale of planning applications] on three occasions and, when they approached West Berkshire Council to ask why they had jumped considerably in size, they were told it must have been human error.
“That’s three times so far it has happened due to ‘human error’ – we’ll be the fourth.”
Town councillor Doris Colloff accused developers and the district council of using “cunning” in such a process and personally pledged £500 towards the war chest.
The town council could need up to £35,000 in its coffers to fight the legal battle to its conclusion.
Costs to date have been assessed as up to £11,000.
Chairwoman of the town council’s environment and planning committee, Carolann Farrell, said: “Once we get the decision over whether we can pursue the judicial review we’ll call another meeting so the whole town can make the decision whether to proceed.
“It will be the town’s decision. We should move forward together.”
Contributions to the fund can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/salisburyroad