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Thatcham Town Council objects to new application for holiday chalets at Hambridge Lake between Newbury and Thatcham

Thatcham Town Council has weighed in on recently revised plans for chalets at Hambridge Lake.

An application was submitted for five two-bed chalets to the western bank of the lake earlier this year.

Hambridge Lake plans, picture: RPS Group
Hambridge Lake plans, picture: RPS Group

The plans were discussed in a recent planning and highways committee meeting.

Chairman of the committee, Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) called the holiday chalets ‘largely indistinguishable’ from residential accommodation.

And Jay Lunn (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) questioned the number of hours a day that the clubhouse will be manned.

This isn’t the first time the applicant’s plans for future site use has come into question – it has previously been called a Trojan horse for housing.

Tom McCan (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said: “I don’t mind developers using and exploiting loopholes, that’s their jobs.

Read more: Another application submitted for holiday chalets at Hambridge Lake

“It is our job to shut the loopholes down, it is their job to find them.”

A member of the public – who lives opposite the lake – attended the meeting and expressed her concerns with the plans.

She addressed issues surrounding pollution levels and flooding.

She also said the site falls within a strategic gap between Newbury and Thatcham.

She told the chamber that the area does not fall within the Local Plan area for development – meaning the only way to build here is using a leisure and tourism exemption.

The chamber agreed to object to the plans for the following reasons.

It said the site fell within a strategic gap between Newbury and Thatcham.

It said there may be a future change of use.

A national cycle route passes along the footway on the east of Hambridge Road and the south of London Road but the design of the access to the site has not accounted for the need of cyclists to cross its entrance.

But it said, in the event that West Berkshire Council approves the application, the town council requested that there is evidence given on the viability of the lake, including water quality, under normal and extreme weather conditions, and sewage.

It requested that a potentially approved application restricts a change of use, restricts occupancy of chalets to fishing season, that the clubhouse remains a clubhouse for the use of only the chalet occupants and that parking permits allocated to the chalets do not exceed the number of people staying on the site.

The meeting was recorded and can be viewed on Thatcham Town Council’s YouTube channel.

In November 2019, an application for 41 chalets on the same site was submitted to West Berkshire Council and was refused in March 2020.

Thatcham Town Council also objected to the scheme.

The plans went to appeal but were dismissed in November 2021.

And a fresh application for nine three-bed chalets on this site was refused last June.

The district council refused on the grounds of impact on landscape, character and biodiversity.

It also said the development fell in a historic strategic gap between Newbury and Thatcham.

Despite the applicants intentions being called into question with councillors suggesting it may be a Trojan horse for housing, the purpose of the plans remain to be recreational holiday leisure only in the application.

The application can be viewed by searching 24/00042/FULMAJ into West Berkshire Council’s online planning portal.

The determination deadline is April 3.

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