Tue, 07 Jan 2020
THATCHAM councillors have objected to plans to build chalets around Hambridge Lake.
Pegasus Group, which has applied to build the 41 chalets, said they would be for recreational and holiday use only.
But councillors raised doubts about the nature of the chalets and were warned they would be a “Trojan horse” for building houses on the site.
Pegasus said the chalets and clubhouse would form a retreat for angling use on the lake, which is situated on the junction of the A4 and Hambridge Road.
Access will come off Hambridge Road opposite Two Rivers Way, while 50 car parking spaces and three cycle spaces are also proposed.
The site also includes 48 proposed fishing stations along the perimeter of the lake.
Speaking at a Thatcham Town Council meeting on December 17, objector Angelika Rivero said that Pegasus were using a planning framework loophole to create a development opportunity for themselves.
The outline application only covers access to the site, but Mrs Rivero said: “If you don’t object to this in its entirety, this will be the lever to get the Trojan horse in.”
She added that the holiday home use was “a crowbar to get planning permission on the site”.
“Are you comfortable with that and what can you do to stop it?” she said.
Mrs Rivero said the applicants had to prove their scheme would provide economic benefits on the ecologically sensitive site.
Addressing councillors, she said: “How will it impact the local ecology, particularly downstream?
“Will it improve access to the local countryside? How will it impact the flood risk?
“We know that Hambridge Lake and Bellwood Lake are flooded and could be for some time. Hambridge Road floods every time we have heavy rain.”
Mrs Rivero also questioned the sustainability of the site, saying that nearby Bellwood Lake, larger than Hambridge Lake, had its number of pitches reduced to 20 in recent years.
She added that people looking for an angling getaway would be disappointed as the chalets would be next to two busy roads.
Chairing the meeting, Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said the scheme was similar to others in Newbury, where the final build was different from the planning permission – notably The Lodge at Newbury Racecourse and Dream Lodge chalets off Hambridge Lane.
“I don’t think we can officially take that into account, but it’s in the back of my mind,” he said.
“This is effectively a strategic gap between Newbury and Thatcham on the side of the A4.
“We oppose access to the application site and also oppose the principle of the development and we would expect to oppose subsequent states of planning for flooding and overdevelopment.”
Richard Foster (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said: “It doesn’t seem to be something that’s been put together for fishermen.
“There appears to be no consultation with the fishing community and little concern for what’s needed for that lake.”
Mark Lillycrop said he had a number of concerns about traffic at the busy junction.
The development, comprising 33 two-bed chalets and eight one-bed chalets, would create 10 equivalent full-time jobs.
Councillors Adrian Abbs and Jeff Brooks have asked for the application to be heard at a West Berkshire Council planning meeting should officers recommend approval.