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Cold water poured on Sandleford infrastructure capacity

Critics say site needs to be reassessed in wake of climate emergency declaration

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Sandleford plans back on the table

ONLY 50 homes at the proposed 1,500 development at Sandleford will have a water supply, based on existing infrastructure capacity. 

Significant waste water upgrades will also be required to accommodate the development, Thames Water has said.

The company’s comments follow a series of infrastructure concerns regarding access, traffic, education and co-operation between the site’s two developers.  

Campaigners are also calling for the council to reassess Sandleford in the light of its climate emergency declaration. 

Thames Water said it had “identified that some capacity exists within the water network to serve 50 dwellings but beyond that upgrades to the water network will be required”.

The company said that talks were ongoing to understand the requirements, but has suggested a condition to ensure that development does not outpace the delivery of essential infrastructure.

It has proposed that no properties beyond the 50th be occupied until all the network upgrades have been installed, or a phasing plan has been agreed.

Sandleford was put forward as a 2,000-home site back in 2010 and has faced strong objections. 

Say No to Sandleford campaigner Peter Norman said he wasn’t surprised about the lack of infrastructure.

He added that West Berkshire Council needed to reassess the scheme, following its climate emergency declaration. 

“I think the infrastructure requirements are an ongoing issue,” he said.

“It’s a greenfield development.

“To me, the issue with Sandleford now is, given the council has declared its climate emergency, how serious is it really about this?

“Sandleford should be looked at again in light of this declaration to see if it’s fit for purpose.

“I think anyone with half a brain would come to the conclusion that it’s not.” 

Mr Norman said there were a lot of unanswered questions and, as it stood, pupils heading to schools to be built alongside the homes would be “hit with pollution at the worst times of the day”. 

He said: “All of these things need to be taken into consideration, which weren’t on the radar at the time this was being discussed in 2010.”

He said the council needed to be bold and say “life has changed… we need to look again at Sandleford”.

He said: “They have got time as it’s no longer in the five-year housing supply plan.”

The council has said that low emission travel is not specifically addressed for Sandleford but electric vehicle charging points will be expected for all houses and a percentage provided for communal parking areas for flats. 

Commenting on the water issues, David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) said: “It’s just another serious question raised about the whole project really.

“The whole development has long been called into question for several reasons.

“What will they do, build 50, do a bit more piping and build some more? 

“It seems farcical really.” 

Mr Marsh said that the council had committed to looking at things differently “particularly in development, which needs to be sustainable to keep carbon emissions preferably to zero”. 

Lib Dem ward member Adrian Abbs also said he wasn’t surprised by the inadequate infrastructure. 

He said: “Every time we try and take a step forward, it looks less sustainable as a location, whether it’s traffic, fire, water – we keep finding reasons why it’s not a sustainable site. 

“I don’t know why we seem to be locking ourselves into a dogmatic view of Sandleford.”

Mr Abbs, who is shadow portfolio holder for climate change, said traffic assessments would have to be remodelled again, following smaller developments planned for the area and a new university centre at Newbury College.  

He said the charging points guidance was a step in the right direction but added “if every house in Sandleford were to generate its own power, I would be a happy man”.

West Berkshire Council said: "The National Planning Policy Framework (February 2019) requires a review of local plans once every five years, this is what the Council is doing with the Local Plan Review to 2036.

"It is anticipated that the Local Plan Review will be submitted for independent examination following consultation in 2020."

Bloor Homes was approached for comment.

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