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Burghfield residents bracing for Firlands Farm planning appeal next week

Residents form action group to block Henry Davidson Developments' appeal to build up to 129 homes on greenfield site

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

plans

BURGHFIELD residents are preparing for another inquiry next week to determine whether more than 100 homes will be built in their village.

Henry Davidson Developments (HDD) Burghfield Common Ltd is appealing against West Berkshire Council’s decision to refuse outline planning permission for up to 129 homes at Firlands Farm, Hollybush Lane. The site is classed as greenfield and lies outside of the village settlement boundary. The developer states that 40 per cent of the homes will be affordable.

The council refused the application saying that it could demonstrate a five-year housing supply and that it was premature while its development plan document was being formalised. It also said that the development would result in the loss of “key landscape features” and have a significant, adverse impact on the rural farmland setting.

HDD, however, argues that the site represents sustainable development with minimal adverse impact and is challenging the council’s five-year housing supply.

The upcoming inquiry follows an unsuccessful challenge to the council’s housing supply by Gladman Developments in February, after it was refused planning permission to build up to 210 homes on two agricultural copses on either side of Mans Hill, Burghfield Common.

HDD had asked that both appeals be determined at one inquiry owing to the similarities between the two appeals, but the council successfully argued otherwise.

A previous scheme for Firlands Farm, including a supermarket, pub, care home and apartments was taken to the High Court, but later dropped, after the scheme was not included in the council’s core strategy.

People in Burghfield have formed the Residents Against Firlands Square (RAFS) action group and are calling for residents to attend the inquiry.

Member Zane Welch said that while the latest plans were “not, in themselves, horrendous” residents were concerned over the detrimental effect the homes would have on village infrastructure.

He said: “The biggest concern is that the site would hold many hundreds more houses and the developer has in the past been in correspondence with West Berkshire Council, which cite 350 plus houses. Henry Davidson have published a map showing the potential for 300 – 400 houses so the intentions are clear.

“Burghfield schools are oversubscribed right now. Even 50 new families would cause problems. That, along with all the other strains on doctors, traffic, water and waste, and so on, would be intolerable.”

He added: “The fact is that West Berkshire Council has a sound housing plan in place which is being reviewed as a condition of the adoption of the Core Strategy. How can a developer justify pre-empting the findings of that review? How can a developer ignore the council’s preferred site for development? The answer is simple – profiteering.”

The appeal hearing will be held at the Hilton Newbury Centre on Tuesday, June 2.

RAFS have said they will provide a free coach to and from the hearing for anyone who wishes to attend. The coach will leave Recreation Road in Burghfield at 9am.

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