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Thatcham's 91 homes on Lower Way will be built

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Ninety-one homes will be built next to a nature reserve in Thatcham.

But the developer will be warned off from trying use a ‘viability’ excuse to reduce the number of affordable homes.

“We want to make sure we keep the number of affordable homes up and not allow these developers to hide behind viability for reducing them,” councillor Alan Law (Con, Basildon) told last night’s West Berkshire Council eastern area planning committee.

The superseded plan for the Lower Way developmet. Picture by: Persimmon Homes. (54413904)
The superseded plan for the Lower Way developmet. Picture by: Persimmon Homes. (54413904)

Dozens of residents objected to the scheme, fearing increased traffic and loss of green space.

But their cries went unheard as the meeting was told the area would be built on even if the Persimmon Homes development got turned down.

The land next to Lower Way is designated for development in the current Local Plan and the scheme was approved.

Dozens of people objected to the plans, saying local opinion is being ignored and that the developer is paying lip service to them with a ‘box ticking’ public consultation.

“I understand where local residents are coming from,” said councillor Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield). “If I lived there I would feel the same way. But we are not here to debate the principles of development. That has already been done.”

The scheme was recommended for approval by West Berkshire Council planners, who said that building on the field near Lower Way will actually improve biodiversity.

The application, according to officers, is acceptable in planning terms as the site delivers a 12 per cent gain in biodiversity, with landscaping and hedgerows, as well as gaps in the fences for hedgehogs.

The proposed scheme seeks to deliver 37 affordable units in accordance with the policy. This equates to 14 one-bed flats, six two-bed flats, seven two-bed houses, eight three-bed houses and two four-bed houses. Twenty-six units are provided as affordable rented and 11 shared ownership.

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