Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Controversial Planning Proposal For Theale Lodged

The toing and froing over the proposed development of Pincents Hill has started in earnest with the submission of a planning application for the 37 acre site by Blue Living.

The outline application includes 750 homes plus 4 offices, two restaurants and cafes, up to six shops, a 40-bedroom hotel, a healthcare centre, library, primary school and nursery.

Reading West MP Martin Salter attacked Conservatives for giving the project the 'amber light' by including it in the Local Development Framework (LDF) and commited himself to opposing it all the way, saying "Blue Living can stick all the window dressing on the application that they like, but as far as I’m concerned the vital green wedge between Theale and Tilehurst is sacrosanct."

Strong words indeed.

However LibDems councillor for Tilehurst Ricky Duveen has also expressed his alarm at Labour and tory hypocrisy over the issue by pointing out how they use the issue to galvanise electoral support which are subsequently undermined by their voting patterns when it matters.

He describes their opposition as 'bellicose verbosity', since Birch Copse's Cllr Joe Mooney chose to vote for the plans without amendment and Cllr Tony Linden failed to even turn up (Cllr Emma Webster abstained, due to a conflict of interests caused by her employment with a company involved in similar consultations - as she previously commented on this site on May 13 she was "taking further advice so that I am in a position to be able to speak against the proposal when it comes before a later meeting" although it appears she is as yet still unable to do so).

Martin Salter's habitual practice of 'betraying' his principles is also well noted (see here and here for two recent examples).

Cllr Lee Dillon reports a concerted outcry from Thatcham LibDems against inadequate public consultation undertaken by the Conservatives in West Berkshire. He explains that the LDF was not properly advertised and the relevant authorities weren't even informed - this resulted in only 90 people out of 25,000 viewing the consultation!

Cllr Jason Leake asks "How can they expect the public to appreciate the impact this will have on their lives?"

In the meantime Linda Fort reports that Cllrs Mooney and Linden, together with Tilehurst parish council chair Jean Gardner, have put their support behind a plan to give the site 'village green' status which would prevent it from being built on.

As one cynical commenter observes, all this manoeuvering is just a preamble to the real war of attrition which typically follows such controversial plans - either the public will be softened up or the application will just be watered down until politicians tire of the discussion and finally let them through.

The plans will be on show to the public in Tilehurst Parish Hall on Sunday August 9th from 10am to 4pm.

The public consultation period remains open until Thursday 20th August. Letters should be sent to Head of Legal and Electoral Services, West Berkshire Council, Market Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

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Update: Blue Living has 'vowed' that the site won't be a "typical soulless housing development" - ignoring the fact that campaigners aren't worried about the type of development, because they've vowed to oppose all and any plans.

Theale Village blog reports the deadline has been extended from three to eight weeks "because of the scale of the proposal" and you now have until September 18th to send in your comments on the consultation.

Oranjepan asks:
Will the Save Calcot Action Group maintain momentum, or will they be stonewalled by the combined weight of concrete and cash? The planning authority is required to read all submissions, so if you have an opinion to express, why don't you sent it in?

1 comment:

  1. Councillors can't just turn down planning applications without due cause. They can only be turned down for planning reasons. Makes a bit of a mockery really of any planning committees, but that's the rules they have to go by. Maybe Salter might want to campaign for changing the rules so applications like this can be turned down at planning.

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