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Opinion divided over 700-home Thatcham development

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Community torn by plan which includes bridge over level crossing

LOCAL opinion has been divided following recent revelations that two new road bridges could be built in south Thatcham to replace the notorious level crossing, but at the cost of a new 700-home development.

Last month, the Newbury Weekly News reported that the Colthrop Village Consortium – a partnership of waste management firm Grundon and the Henry family – were planning the mixed-use project between Colthrop Mill and Station Road, south of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

If plans went ahead, it would include 700 homes, a 100-berth marina, a sports complex, playing field and new primary school, as well as two bridges providing access over the River Kennet to Crookham Hill and replacing the level crossing to connect Pipers Lane.

Reacting to the news on the NewburyToday Facebook page, Chris Turner spoke favourably of the plans and said: “At least this proposal comes with a decent set of associated infrastructure.

“I’m fed up with developers being granted permission to build major new housing projects in the area and only having to provide a small play park, an inadequate community building or a small classroom extension.

“We do need more houses in the area plus major infrastructure improvements, and if schemes like these can deliver both then they are worthy of my support.”

Antony Rich agreed: “Whether you like it or not, Thatcham will grow, there are a few developments that are being bandied about at the moment, all quoting large amounts of houses.

“Unfortunately, none offer anything to the wider Thatcham community, apart from this one.

“This is the only one where congestion may actually be eased by the addition of properties, yes we do need to add more secondary school places and doctors.

“This is the only development to give us something back, more leisure facilities, more jobs, and a bridge. I’ll support it.”

However, not everybody was keen on the project. Nicky McDonald asked: “What about secondary school provision?

“Already a large number of Thatcham children have to travel to Newbury, this would just make it worse.”

Another resident, Lisa Ludewig, added: “So we can finally get a bridge and a new primary school but only if we accept 700 new houses.

“What secondary school will the children that live in these new houses attend?”

Debi Richens said: “The infrastructure in Thatcham can’t cope as it is. We would need two more Dr’s surgeries, senior as well as primary school, nursery or children’s centre facilities, not to mention the 87 homes [planned] for the field at Lower Way.

“West Berkshire Council are not listening to the people that live here already.”

West Berkshire Council spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: “At the moment we’ve not had a planning application submitted with any detail of what’s planned nor is the site one of the preferred areas for development in the housing site allocation plan we agreed earlier this month.

“This was a carefully considered document which will allow us to deliver the next 1,600 homes for West Berkshire.”

The Colthrop Village Consortium is yet to confirm when it will submit a formal planning application but added that information would be released over the coming months.

A spokesperson said: “My expectation is that over the next few weeks we will be working out a consultation timetable and an anticipated date for submitting a planning application.”

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