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BCA care village plan called in by Secretary of State

A controversial planning application to build a care village in the greenbelt grounds of Berkshire College of Agriculture has been called in by Government minister Sajid Javid.

The application for 108 independent and assisted-living units and a 50-bed care home was approved by the council in March, despite it being recommended for refusal by planning officers.

In a letter sent to Bisham Parish Council on Monday, October 9, the Planning Inspectorate stated: “I am writing to let you know that the Secretary of State [Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid] has decided to exercise his powers in section 77 of the 1990 Act.

“This means he will determine this planning application instead of the Royal Borough.”

It stated the application will be dealt with by an inquiry procedure, which will be held by a planning inspector.

Joe Staunton, vice chairman of Burchetts Green Village Association, said the decision to call in the application was ‘absolutely necessary’.

He said: “We now have another opportunity to put forward to the Government inspector why it should not go ahead.”

Referring to last week’s Advertiser interview with Cllr David Coppinger, the Royal Borough’s new cabinet member for planning, who said he would listen to the experts, Mr Staunton said: “This is the ethos that should have been adopted at the panel meeting rather than Cllr Richard Kella-way’s protestation to his officers that he didn’t care about planning law.

“He just wanted  a care village. How is that representation of either the law or the wishes of those that elected him?”

On the night of the meeting, Cllr Kellaway (Con, Bisham and Cook-ham), chairman of the panel, said the plan would provide money for the college, which would prevent it merging with another further education provider to secure its long-term future.

He added the education of young people was ‘more important than some minute detail of planning law’.

Gillian May, principal, of the BCA, said of the decision to call in the plan: “We will continue to look at all the options available to the college and make sure we continue to engage with all our stakeholders.”

The date of the inquiry is still to be set.

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