Wed, 25 May 2016
PLANS for 700 homes and a long-awaited bridge to replace Thatcham’s level crossing have been shelved... for now.
In November, the Newbury Weekly News exclusively revealed that the Colthrop Village Consortium (CVC) was planning a mixed-use residential and commercial development on a site between Crookham Mill and Station Road. As part of the package, the development was to include an ambitious double-span road bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal at Pipers Lane.
There were also plans for a 100-berth marina, a sports complex, a new primary school and playing fields.
However, this week, a spokesperson for the consortium said that, as the site had not been included in West Berkshire Council’s preferred housing site document, it would not be submitting an application.
“The Colthrop Village Consortium has always said that it wants to work with West Berkshire Council in terms of the council’s demand for housing in appropriate locations.
“In effect, this means that, at this stage, the consortium will not be submitting a speculative planning application on a site which hasn’t currently been allocated as a preferred site. The council is currently targeting autumn 2016 to put out its call for sites.
“If this proves to be the case then we anticipate our more detailed proposals for the site might be available towards the start of 2017, following the publication of the [Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment].
“Notwithstanding, the CVC is continuing to use this time to explore fully the site constraints, to make sure the development can deliver the desired package of community benefits.”
West Berkshire and Thatcham town councillor Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said he was “relieved” that the plans had been put on hold.
“The one benefit of that development was the road bridge over the canal. It would make travelling south of the town easier. However, it would be a lot more development for Thatcham. It is more than enough development for the time being. We have got a couple of appeals going in at the moment in the north of Thatcham. On balance it is one of relief on this one.”
He added that a long-awaited bridge to replace the level crossing would likely only be possible with developer’s contributions.
Fellow Thatcham town councillor Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) originally blasted the plans when they were first revealed, citing over-development and urban sprawl.
He said at the time: “I am not supporting a bridge if it’s going to lead to more homes.
“I can, however, understand drivers sitting in the traffic jams wondering when their bridge will be built.”
West Berkshire Council said: “The site at Colthrop is contrary to current policy as set out in the development plan. CVC is aware of this and have already confirmed its intention to submit new plans to the council in late June or July. Therefore it is unclear how the current unchanged timetable has caused them to shelve their plans.
“The council is currently at the Examination of the Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document which will boost the supply of housing in the district.
“West Berkshire can currently demonstrate a 6.6 year housing land supply – therefore have a healthy land supply position.”