Opposition mounts to hundreds of homes on floodplain between Hampshire and Newbury
Residents living close to the proposed 350-home development in Wash Water are rallying against the scheme.
A full planning application for 90 homes on the east side of the site and an outline planning application for the rest have now been submitted by Bewley Homes to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
A community centre, convenience store, allotments, health centre, community garden and a cycle path from the site to Wash Common have also been earmarked for later phases of the scheme.
On Monday, concerned residents gathered at the Woodpecker Inn to organise their objections to the scheme, with the main concerns being over flooding, traffic and the ability of infrastructure to cope with the influx of cars and residents.
They also criticised the proposed cycle path – which will be on the southbound side of the A343 and will be reached by an uncontrolled crossing across the road.
Enborne Row resident Chris Garrett said: “People are going to want to send their children in to Newbury.
“Can the schools cope? If they can’t get in Newbury they’ll have to go for Woolton Hill or The Clere.
“They’re not going to walk there are they, so that’s more traffic and cars on the roads.”
The campaign group Enborne River Valley Preservation Society – formerly Keep Wash Water Rural – argues it has spotted inconsistencies and concerning elements of Bewley Homes’ own flooding analysis, particularly a reference to flooding potentially extending “to a few of the proposed residential units, to community buildings and the health care centre, [and] will not exceed 300mm.”
North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse said in a letter to resident and campaigner Jamie Berry that he shared the concerns about planning applications on green field sites due to the borough council lacking a Local Plan update and five year housing and land supply.
He said: “We are seeing a number of speculative applications across the area, from Ashford Hill and Bishops Green to Wash Water, Highclere and elsewhere.
“I know the council is working hard to finalise the plan but obviously until it is agreed, developers see a window which they are rushing to exploit.
“We obviously need more housing for our young people, but it has to be in the right places and with the right infrastructure, and crucially high quality and well designed to fit and enhance our villages and towns.”
Newbury Town Council meanwhile has also objected to the application, which sits on its parish border.
In a meeting on Monday, councillors voiced concerns over the scheme – but said the borough council would find it difficult to refuse the application as it doesn’t have a five year housing and land supply.
Town councillor Tony Vickers (Lib Dem, Wash Common) said there were a lot of good things about the proposals but said Bewley Homes had a “track record” of not delivering on the benefits.
He said: “I’ve never seen so many goodies being offered by the developer – it would all be wonderful if it ends up delivering everything.
“A community centre, a riverside park, a massive amount of public space, a new cycle route into Newbury paid for by the developer, an onsite car club.
“The big but is Bewley Homes has a track record of not delivering what they’ve promised.”
The council objected on the grounds that the site was on a floodplain and that the community centre wouldn’t be delivered until a later phase of the development.
To view the proposals, head to the borough council’s planning portal and enter the reference 21/03394/OUT.