Impact of 2,500 homes on Thatcham residents 'impossible to answer'
THE impact on Thatcham residents of building 2,500 homes on the town's edge is "an impossible question to answer" a senior West Berkshire Council officer has said.
The council has proposed building 2,500-homes in north east Thatcham on land stretching from the top of Floral Way to Colthrop and into Midgham parish in its Local Plan Review.
An assessment of Thatcham conducted as part of a masterplanning exercise identified that it was lagging behind in infrastructure compared to similar towns.
The council said it expects two new primary schools, a new secondary school, retail and a country park to be included as part of the scheme delivered by a consortium of developers and landowners.
Thatcham Town Council has been calling on the district council to tell residents what mitigation and infrastructure will be delivered with the homes.
Speaking at a town council meeting last week, the council's planning policy manager, Bryan Lyttle, said that an infrastructure delivery plan would be published in October – close to the final proposal going before the council before being sent to Planning Inspectorate for examination.
He said: "At this stage I can't tell you what the proposed mitigation measures would be. There are a whole raft of things that can be done in incremental stages."
Town mayor John Boyd (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) asked: "What kind of impact do you believe this development will have on the current residents of Thatcham and what would you do to mitigate such an impact?"
Mr Lyttle replied: "It's an impossible question to answer because it's going to take so long to build out.
"There are going to be certain residents of Thatcham who are no longer going to be around.
"There are some residents who are going to move away.
"There are certain people in Thatcham who are going to be enticed to relocate within Thatcham and live on the new estate if it goes forward.
"We've already had people indicate that they can't afford to buy in Thatcham, and a development that's going to provide 40 per cent affordable housing is a great benefit to them.
"That would enable them to live in Thatcham along with their parents, rather than live in their parents existing houses.
"It's going to give aspirations for people who work at Colthrop to live nearer Colthrop and perhaps walk to work when the internal combustion engine is outlawed in 2030.
"It's going to be different for different people."
Lourdes Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) asked what impact the development would have on the rural area between Thatcham, Bucklebury and Midgham.
Mr Lyttle said there would be a significant area of country park "providing public access to an area that currently has a few public footpaths but not wide public access as the country park would allow".
He added that there would be "various mitigation strategies" resulting from ecological studies.