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2,500 new homes would be ‘devastating’ for Thatcham

Town councillors hit out at plans to ‘dump’ huge housing development on town

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886633

Firm unveils plans for 'largest' recent West Berkshire development in Thatcham

"Dumping" 2,500 homes on Thatcham "is not a plan" and would be "devastating for the town".

Town councillors launched a flurry of criticism against West Berkshire Council identifying north east Thatcham as a strategic housing site at a meeting last week.

Masterplan documents show that the development, being drawn up by a consortium of landowners and developers, would stretch from Floral Way and along the A4 into Colthrop and Midgham parish.

The district council said that Thatcham was the best place for the scale of development proposed, which would also provide the town with the infrastructure it needs.

The Liberal Democrats have said they will fight the proposed development, which they say would increase the size of Thatcham by 25 per cent and only deliver the infrastructure to cover itself.

Responding to the district's council's consultation, town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said the "enormous development was unlike anything this town and community has ever had to experience".

He said the proposals equated to adding the population of Hungerford to the town.

"It's basically a new town being added to Thatcham," Mr Lister said.

Town and district councillor Jeremy Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said he was "desperately disappointed" with the scheme.

"It's going to be devastating for our community if this goes ahead," he said.

"It shows a total lack of imagination from the leadership of West Berkshire Council – let's just dump the houses on Thatcham.

"I say we can't take any major housing until infrastructure has caught up. I'm distraught that somebody would propose to just dump this on Thatcham. 

"It's callous, wrong, badly thought out and we should just reject it.

"It's just over the top."

Defending the proposals, West Berkshire Council executive member for the environment Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said that the Lib Dems were making exaggerated claims that the houses were being dumped on the town.

He said: "One point I have not heard mentioned is that we live in a very high-cost area, and while we all have houses, and we are fortunate, I'm fairly certain that the majority of us live in houses built since the 1970s.

"Thatcham has grown and we are all beneficiaries of that growth.

"Our children, in many cases, can't afford to live in this district because of the cost and lack of supply of affordable housing.

"We can't just ignore the fact that young people need somewhere to live."

Mr Ardagh-Walter said the homes would be built to the highest environmental standards with a smaller environmental footprint.

Paul Field (Green, Thatcham Central) said the plan was in "a shoddy condition", but presented a chance for the town to plan its future.

"This is a chance to talk about not what we don't want, but what we do want," he said.

"The reality is this is an opportunity for us to engage with our community – to discuss what we want for our town, and our children's future town to look like and develop like.

"This is a chance to discuss, or rather accept, that change is essential and inevitable, as it always has been."

Mr Field said there was an opportunity to ensure that the development "addresses the climate crisis, carbon neutrality and carbon zero, so that Thatcham becomes a beacon to other towns to aspire to be, rather than a semi-carbuncle on the side of a neighbouring market town".

Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said that 2,500 homes was "far, far to much" for the town.

But he said that the Government was calling for more housing and Thatcham had to do its bit

He said: "We are in a challenging situation with regard to the infrastructure that we need. No doubt that 2,500 homes will come with some form of benefits.

"I would suggest the way forward is that a number of individual smaller groups of houses be promoted around the perimeter of the town."

Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said that the district council's plan was not consistent and did not show how the proposed infrastructure would be phased.

"It's essentially dumping 2,500 homes on our town of Thatcham," he said. "That's not a plan, it's just dumping and that's exactly what it is. It's an ill thought out plan.

"This is just 'where can we chuck these houses? I know, let's chuck them at Thatcham'."

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Article comments

  • anonymouse

    12/02/2021 - 02:41

    Thatcham has more than 'done it's bit' as regards housing in West Berks. It is not that long since the Kennet Heath estate was built, and another estate behind the garden centre, there are also houses being built on Station Road, opposite the station. 2500 more houses, built on green fields, will potentially mean another 5000 cars and the only road through is the A4, which is already over capacity, and used when the M4 is closed. The only north-south route out of Thatcham is over the level crossing, which is closed for 40 minutes in every hour, and the only east-west route is the A4. The few alternative E-W routes are residential. The infrastructure is not there to take the additional traffic that a development of this size would generate, quite apart from the problems of schools, doctors, leisure facilities etc.

    Reply

  • Marion1962

    07/02/2021 - 12:50

    No doubt those that are backing this do not live in Thatcham. It's is already packed in schools, Doctors and the local roads cannot deal with 2500 more homes.

    Reply

  • Local Reader

    06/02/2021 - 16:14

    So llets get this right. Hillary( wont crap on my back yard) Cole is proposing to allow a housing estate of a magnitude to increase housing to turn Thatcham into another Lower Early ? Yet, WBC turned down planning in Tilehurst for 4 homes due to traffic on Langley Hill https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/property/demolition-begins-reading-eyesore-stood-19763022 4 homes V 2500 homes, with potential of 5000 cars ?. All this drainage work we have suffered locally for 'supposed' alleviation for homes flooded in 2007 is nothing more than a smokescreen to build on granting permission for these house applications,like the smokescreen of the new water main up Harts Hill for 'better water for Bucklebury'. As for Mr Aldaugh Walter ( yes, the chap who made the app for the train crossing issues) which ironically didnt work thinking that its not an issue about the crossing now , says a great deal about the council we have in place. The infrastructure cant cope, inc doctors, schools, emergency serv.

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  • NewburyLad

    06/02/2021 - 14:43

    I see our useless MP and her equally useless Tory Government has let another 240 Africans illegally enter this country this year so far. Any new housing built for our young people will not end up going to our young people. Instead it will most likely go to those who have never contributed to our economy and never will contribute.

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