Wed, 10 Feb 2021
BUCKLEBURY residents have banded together to fight “intrusive” proposals to develop the greenfield site between Thatcham and neighbouring villages.
West Berkshire Council has identified north east Thatcham to accommodate 2,500 homes in its Local Plan Review as “the logical place” for strategic housing.
The homes would be built on around 170 hectares of land from the top of Floral Way to Colthrop and into Midgham Parish.
Bucklebury residents fear the plan will overwhelm the area, bringing heavy traffic and pollution on to rural roads as well as eating into valuable green space that hosts threatened and rare native wildlife.
Steve Beeson, who helped to set up the campaign group, said the resulting development would be “highly visually intrusive”.
Kirsty Adams, who lives on Bucklebury Common, said: “It is not just the loss of actual land that will impact negatively on biodiversity.
“Many of the more endangered species – including nightjars, adders, glowworms, slow worms, woodlarks, bats – suffer decline when disturbed, and that disturbance can include increase in traffic, noise pollution and light pollution for the nocturnal species.”
Landlowner Willie Hartley Russell said he would be delighted to help in any way that he could.
Mr Hartley Russell commented on the Bucklebury Parish against Thatcham Development Facebook group, saying: “I am particularly concerned about the over-development of Thatcham and the resultant environmental pressure – and detriment – to the surrounding countryside, notably Bucklebury Common, rights of way and fabric of our community.”
Residents also raised fears that the village primary school could be closed if a new school were built so close to its catchment area.
Mr Beeson, who has lived in Bucklebury for several years, said: “Both my children have attended Bucklebury Primary.
“If the school closed, the heart would go out of the village.”
West Berkshire Council chairman Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury) said that he was sympathetic to people’s concerns,
“I am listening closely to my local residents – whom I have represented for 34 years,” he said.
Mr Pask said he was still gathering information. “My role at the moment is to take stock” and he added that those opposing the campaign should fully engage with the proposals: “I am urging people not just to say no, but to qualify the no.”
Thatcham residents are also mobilising to oppose the plans.
Town and district councillor Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) welcomed Bucklebury’s commitment to work with residents of Thatcham and beyond to combat the proposals.
He said: “When confronted with a proposal like Thatcham New Town it is easy to be disheartened; but to realise that others in the villages also appreciate the negative impact of such a development is gratefully received.”
For more information, visit the Bucklebury Parish against Thatcham Development Facebook group.