Tue, 26 Nov 2019
TOWN councillors have drawn up battle plans for Hungerford’s 100 homes development D-Day.
The fate of the Bewley Homes project, King’s Ride south of Priory Road, will be determined tomorrow (Wednesday) by West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee.
District council planning officers had recommended approval – which prompted district councillor James Cole (Con, Hungerford and Kintbury) to call the application in to the committee for a decision instead.
At an extraordinary meeting of the town council’s environment and planning committee on Monday, members voted to oppose the ‘reserved matters’ application for the project, which already has outline permission.
The critics’ case will be bolstered by a planning officer’s report to the committee which contains warnings from a crime prevention adviser that “there are aspects of the design that could be problematic in terms of crime and antisocial behaviour”.
The report continues that footpaths connecting the homes to fields and to John O’Gaunt School “could assist those intent on crime and antisocial behaviour”, with some areas deemed “particularly vulnerable”.
The adviser consequently refused to endorse the application in its current form.
At Monday’s environment and planning committee meeting, town councillor Richard Hudson said that “exceptional circumstances for developing the AONB [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty] have never been demonstrated”.
He added: “This was just ground through by West Berkshire Council.
“What can we do to mitigate the appalling situation we face?”
District councillor Cole told the committee: “I wouldn’t necessarily bet on [the application] getting through next week.”
But he reminded members that, if it was refused, “the applicants will no doubt go to appeal”.
The developers were criticised by town councillors for failing to include green measures such as solar panels and heat pumps.
A member of the public asked Bewley Homes representative Geoff Wilde whether the remaining green spaces on the site could eventually be earmarked for more development.
Mr Wilde replied that nothing could be forever ruled out, but that there were no plans to do so.
He said that, if the application was approved, groundbreaking could begin as soon as December, with foundations being laid in January and the first homes being ready for sale by October 2020.
Town mayor Helen Simpson said: “We should use the western area planning meeting to put the strong feedback we’ve received from the public.”
The committee agreed to object to the reserved matters application on the following grounds:
* Over development or overcrowding of the site... out of character with the area
* Negative/adverse visual impact, particularly on the landscape and/or locality
* Detrimental effect on the character of the local area (in the AONB)
* Adverse impact on nearby properties by reason of its size, depth, width, height and massing and by overlooking, loss of privacy and visual overbearing.
The western area planning meeting is open to the public and takes place in the district council offices in Market Street, Newbury, at 6.30pm on Wednesday, November 27.