A PLANNING inspector has refused to allow a separate housing estate to be built right on the edge of the proposed 2,000-home development at Sandleford Park in Newbury.
This is despite the fact that the first homes at Sandleford are not expected to be built for at least another five years, following numerous delays to that planning application.
Gladman Developments Ltd had applied to build 85 homes south of Garden Close Lane in Wash Water; arguing that West Berkshire Council did not have an adequate supply of land for housing.
However, the council countered the Cheshire-based developer’s claims and rejected the plans, saying that the development would have had a “serious and detrimental impact on the rural setting to the south of Newbury”.
Gladman challenged the council’s refusal and said that the only thing standing in its way was the alleged harm to the landscape.
However, planning inspector Jonathon Manning, sided with the council, which he said could demonstrate a five-year housing supply.
The council’s executive member for planning and housing, Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley), said: “West Berkshire Council has a housing strategy which is clear about the number of houses we need in the coming years and preferred sites for these homes.
“We are determined to stick to the plan to ensure housing developments work for the local area – and not just for developers.
“This decision sends a strong message to developers that we have a plan-led approach, which is supported by the secretary of state, that allows us here in West Berkshire to determine where we build our houses.”
The decision follows the dismissal in July of plans for up to 495 homes at Siege Cross in Thatcham and up to 225 at Henwick Park in Cold Ash parish.
However, developers won an appeal to build 401 homes to the north and west of Vodafone’s headquarters, owing to delays to Sandleford impacting the council’s housing supply.
In his ruling on Garden Close Lane, Mr Manning said that the delivery of Sandleford had slipped “and it is not anticipated that there will be any completions in the next five years”.
But he added that the council could now demonstrate a five-year supply of housing without Sandleford.
Referring to Garden Close Lane, Mr Manning said that the development would “urbanise the existing, largely rural and pleasant approach into Newbury”.
Furthermore, he added, “Enborne Row would lose its individual identity and would ultimately become part of Newbury”.
The site lies south of the Berkshire Landscape Character Assessment for the Upper Enborne Valley and, while Mr Manning said that it was highly valued by local people, he did not believe that it benefitted from special protection.
Gladman’s proposals included 34 of the homes (40 per cent) as affordable housing and, although Mr Manning said that there was a substantial need for the affordable homes in the district, other housing schemes identified in the council’s local plan would help achieve similar numbers.