Thu, 21 Jan 2021
LIBERAL Democrat town councillors have vowed to fight proposals to build up to 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham.
West Berkshire Council has identified the town for the huge development, which would increase it by 25 per cent, in its Local Plan Review.
The council said that Thatcham was the best place for strategic development, along with 1,500 homes at Newbury’s Sandleford Park.
It also believed that the sprawling development, covering 170 hectares of land from the top of Floral Way to Colthrop and into Midgham parish, would provide Thatcham with desperately- needed infrastructure.
A new secondary school, two primary schools, sports facilities, shops and community centres were expected with any planning applications that come forward from the consortium of land owners and developers eyeing up the town.
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said: “It’s disgraceful that Thatcham Town Council had no visibility of the Local Plan before its publication.
“The view of the Liberal Democrat town councillors is that a development of 2,500 houses in the green spaces of Thatcham is completely unreasonable.
“There has been a total failure over many years by the Conservative-led West Berkshire Council to invest in Thatcham and its most basic infrastructure – the town centre, roads, public transport, schools, GP surgeries, leisure facilities, maintained green spaces, youth facilities, care support and community centres.
“These are all needed for our community to prosper and have all been neglected.
“A new development won’t make good on these shortfalls, it will make them worse.”
The district council had edged away from development in Thatcham in its previous plan, saying the town needed a period of consolidation to catch up following the construction of the Kennet Heath estate.
But the Lib Dems feel that a lack of investment means that the conclusions from 2012 must still stand.
Mr Lister said: “Nobody who is familiar with Thatcham would believe that the town can support an expansion of 2,500 new houses.
“The transport links are already at full capacity with congestion on the A4 and at busy times the level crossing can be shut for more than half of the time causing 1km queues.
“The last thing the town needs is thousands of extra cars compounding these problems and competing with the HGVs from the industrial area and distribution centres.
“Thatcham Town Council has already notified West Berkshire Council that these sites are not suitable for development and objected to a smaller development in previous years.
“The Liberal Democrat councillors will oppose this proposal and we expect the town council to reach a similar conclusion when it considers the consultation.”
The Lib Dems have also launched a Thatcham Development Survey asking for residents’ views.