02:30PM, Friday 14 August 2020
An agricultural college has submitted a major planning application for 26 new homes on greenbelt land.
The Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) put forward outline proposals for the residential development to the Royal Borough in July.
According to the college, the new housing will fund an ‘urgently required’ restoration of the historic buildings and parkland there, including the Grade I listed Hall Place.
But residents have raised concerns over its impact on the countryside, with one objector saying it would ‘open the door for any owner of a listed building to sell off greenbelt land for no other reason than to enhance their property’.
The application – which is being funded by the Department for Education (DfE) – seeks to build 26 homes on land off Honey Lane, which is part of the BCA estate, with associated landscaping, access, parking and servicing.
The development will provide 72 vehicle parking spaces, and 26 for bicycles.
In a statement, BCA said: “This application is seeking permission for new housing to fund an urgently required programme of restoration of the extensive range of historic buildings and parkland which are at the heart of the college and the estate.
“Years of use and lack of capital for repairs, maintenance and restoration now mean that the heritage assets are in a very poor condition.
“Because of the importance of securing appropriate capital for the repair and restoration of the heritage assets, the DfE has funded the college’s proposed planning application.
“They have been clear, though, this is the most that they can do to support the college on this.
“These funds would be used wholly and exclusively for the listed assets and not for any educational or college development or expansion.
“In this way we would be protecting the heritage building and estate for the future use of people to come.”
Concerns raised by objectors include the potential for further parking problems in nearby Hurley.
Honey Lane’s single-track status has also become a talking point, as well as complaints over the area becoming an ‘eye sore’ on the greenbelt.
A further objector said: “If this was allowed, it would create a precedent that would have implications country-wide.
“BCA proposes a substantial residential development on a rural greenbelt location, with far reaching views over the Thames Valley, for the sole purpose of creating both capital and a revenue stream in order to renovate and maintain a Grade I listed building.”
A decision has not yet been made. Visit bit.ly/3h1X564 to view the application in full.
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