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West Berkshire shooting school's appeal after council rejects development plans

Tomb Farm, Ashampstead. (46492922)
Tomb Farm, Ashampstead. (46492922)

THE Royal Berkshire Shooting School has appealed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, after plans to expand its Ashampstead premises were rebuffed by West Berkshire Council.

The proposals were first submitted in November 2020, when developers sought permission to expand the existing complex at Tomb Farm, allowing for new offices, function and storage rooms.

The case for these improvements was set out in the original application, lodged by NextPhase Development Ltd on behalf of the school.

The new facilities, they said, would be of major benefit to visitors and management alike.

The application stated: "The predominant objective of this application is to provide a contained but improved facility for the socioeconomic benefit of the site and the surrounding area from a direct and indirect perspective, through the facilitation of an improved, but again limited, conference facilities for the benefit of existing patrons to the club.

"The reconfiguration allows for a more efficient approach to be taken to both the working and leisure facilities available within the existing building."

The current premises are a historic farmstead, believed to be of 17th Century origin.

While archaeological officers registered no major objections to the plans on heritage grounds, conservation officials were more sceptical.

They acknowledged that, while the harm caused by the development would not be "substantial," it would still represent a "real and serious" threat to the significance of the Grade II listed building.

This factored into West Berkshire Council's decision to reject the scheme.

In a response submitted in January, the council's Head of Development and Planning, Gary Lugg, outlined the rationale for this move.

He said: "The proposal is for a large, deep, extension stretching across the entire rear of the building.

"The extension comprises a central gable with extensive flat roof sections either side.

"The proposal would more than double the amount of floorspace, and extend the building beyond the established site envelope.

"Whilst the proposed extension incorporates brick and flint panels and weatherboarding to reflect the traditional materials of the existing building, the extensive area of flat roof, and large areas of glazing, are wholly out of keeping with the traditional 'agricultural' character and form of this building.

"It would introduce a large and incongruous addition to what is otherwise an attractive building of traditional design and form.

"Such an addition would not achieve a high standard of design, and would detract from the rural setting of Tomb Farm House, particularly in views from the open countryside to the west which take in both the proposal and the Grade II listed Tomb Farm House.

"The proposal would introduce an incongruous extension to an existing building within part of the setting of the listed building thereby causing harm to the significance of this listed building."

The appeal - lodged on April 21 - will be decided on the basis of written representations.

These can be made by May 26, and can be submitted online.

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