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Third time unlucky for Crookham pub plans

Amended live/work units turned down again -just

Third time unlucky for Crookham pub plans

A DEVELOPER is set to challenge West Berkshire Council’s decision to turn down his scheme to build live/work units behind the Travellers Friend pub in Crookham.

Newbury-based Ressance’s plans were refused for the third time last week.

The application included one affordable home and an electric vehicle car-sharing scheme to tip the balance in its favour – but in the end planning policy prevailed.

The council had recommended that the plans be refused.

However, they were brought before councillors by Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) – with the residents of Brimpton in mind.

Adding her support was Jean Norman, of the Crookham Park Home Owners Association committee.

She said: “The reduction of the bus service has made it difficult for residents who do not have access to a car to get to Newbury or Thatcham.

“Some have had to resort to getting private taxis, which they can ill afford.

“The commercial electric vehicle car-share scheme will resolve this and help lessen the impact of fewer buses.

“The proposed improvements are welcome and will encourage more use.”

The council had turned down similar schemes for the site, saying that it was against policy.

Meanwhile, the Planning Inspectorate ruled that there was no economic need for the live/work units in the “unsustainable location”. 

Applicant Duncan Crook argued that the scheme complied with council policy and claimed that the council and the Planning Inspectorate were applying the incorrect policy to reject the scheme.

A warning came from Alan Law (Con, Basildon) who said: “In my opinion this is not a finely balanced decision.

“Whilst I do have great sympathy for the case, this could set a very dangerous precedent.

“If we were to approve this, it may well work very well for the people in Crookham, but it may not work for people across the district.”

Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) recommended that the council look at its policies so that it could, in future, “approve with confidence and not set a precedent”.

He said: “I’m sympathetic to the overall development.

“It does feel to me like it’s infill.

“Having said that, I respect the fact that we’ve got our policies and actually in this case I feel our policies are failing us.”

Councillors were split by the plans, with five voting for and five voting against, leaving committee chairman Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury) using his casting vote to refuse the application. 

He said: “I have sympathy with those who have spoken in favour of the application, but I have to go on policy because of the precedent that this would create and, in my opinion, it is clearly against the policies that we have recently approved only in May this year.

“I have no doubt this will be tested on appeal.”

Commenting on the decision, Mr Crook said that he would appeal the council’s decision once again.

“Every application should be considered on its merits,” he said. 

“There are so many differentiating things about this settlement.

“You have 150 dwellings, 300 people living there.

“There’s a shop, there’s a pub, there’s a restaurant.

“If an approval here sets a precedent, then where’s the danger?

“You could count the number of settlements like this on one hand in West Berkshire.”

Mr Crook added that it was “unusual”, as similar developments in the vicinity of the pub had been approved, yet his scheme was judged as unsustainable and against policy.

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