Carter Jonas promoting up to 350-home scheme between Newbury and Thatcham
CONSULTANTS have said that they will keep promoting a scheme for up to 350 homes and a commercial unit in the Newbury and Thatcham gap.
Property consultants Carter Jonas are drawing up plans for 36.48 hectares of land at Lower Henwick Farm, west of Tull Way and north of Turnpike Road.
Land off the Tull Way roundabout is also included for commercial or specialist residential use.
Thatcham town councillors heard last week that the scheme had been rejected from West Berkshire Council's local plan review in favour of the proposed 2,500-home development at north east Thatcham.
Nevertheless Carter Jonas, on behalf of the Frank Wallace Trust, said they would continue promoting the scheme, 10.5 hectares of which would be residential.
Head of planning in the southern region for Carter Jonas, Steve Sensecall, said: "We promoted it in the regulation 18 consultation and will continue to promote it as the plan progresses. It's conceptional, it's not a fait accompli."
A council assessment said that up to 766 homes could be accommodated on the site, but "known issues exist which are likely to decrease this number."
When asked how many homes were proposed Mr Sensecall said that between 300 and 350 properties could be built depending on housing density.
Areas listed for potential employment and community uses to complement existing businesses on the site, such as Tigers Day Nursery, are included in the scheme.
Plans for a car showroom on land west of the Tull Way roundabout were refused in 2019 with West Berkshire Council saying that the economic benefits did not outweigh the harm to the character of the area and would close the gap between Newbury and Thatcham.
Reflecting on the decision town mayor John Boyd (Lib Dem, Thatcham Coltrop & Crookham) said the area was "viewed as sacrosanct and would not be developed on in any shape or form."
Mr Sensecall replied: "We have put it forward as a conceptional idea. We are not saying this is cast in stone by any means. This is our starter for 10 and we will see where it takes us.
"I'm a great believer in if we are bringing new housing forward there should be an element of employment land to assist with sustainability. We think there's scope for additional units."
The district council rejected the site in its Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (Helaa) saying that it was an important visual gap between Newbury and Thatcham.
The assessment said that the development would be visually intrusive within the open farming landscape and would "erode the existing physical separation of Newbury with Thatcham as well as the open undeveloped setting of Thatcham and its separate identity from Newbury."
Traffic implications also raised concerns with the council saying that the development would "overwhelm the A4 near the site and much of Thatcham... It is considered unlikely that suitable mitigation can be provided for a development of this size."
The council said there was a low risk of flooding on the site, which would be partially suitable for development but would require sizable attenuation measures to overcome surface water flows and high groundwater issues.