05:33PM, Tuesday 28 June 2022
Plans submitted for land east of Lodge Road, Hurst, by Mactaggart & Mickel
Planning permission for 200 new homes on the outskirts of Hurst have been declined by Wokingham Borough Council.
In a ten-part rejection statement, Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) refused the request by developers Mactaggart and Mickel who sought to build on the land east of Lodge Road in February this year.
The Scottish building firm aimed to ‘make a valuable contribution to assisting the council in meeting their housing requirements in the short term,’ and were looking to ‘unlock’ private land in the village, linking liveable spaces together with community-led green fields.
A mixture of properties styles were suggested, including private and affordable one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, plus parklands, tennis courts, cycle links and a community orchard were brought in to the design.
Initial plans were modified after a mini public consultation in 2021 originally suggested 300 homes could be built on the area which is currently categorised as ‘countryside.’
The scaled-back version took the vision down to ‘up to 250 homes’ and later to ‘200’ homes.
The plans were met with fierce opposition from the Hurst Village Society, Hurst Parish Council and PHAG (Protecting Hurst Against Growth) who joined forces to create the campaign, ‘Say No to 200 Homes,’ in March 2022.
The crusade gathered much support, including that from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, who wrote in one of the 449 objection letters received by WBC:
“I have raised my objections to the large-scale development of Hurst Village on previous occasions and I wish to make them known again. I am concerned that the current development plans will have a disproportionate impact on the village and its residents.
“Local surgeries and schools are already under pressure due to the volume of people they are responsible for, and an increase of two-hundred homes would stretch these services still further.
“I am also concerned about the potential for flooding in the village. The proposed site often floods and the surface water after torrential rain is significant. This flooding could spread to neighbouring properties in the village and cause serious damage.”
John Osborne, from the Hurst Village Society, is pleased with the outcome but said the campaign isn’t taking a break.
“We welcome the decision as any kind of building on that land is just wrong. It is important to really reflect on why the council rejected the plans. The reasons are many.”
More developers may submit planning applications for this and other land in and around Hurst as WBC's finalised Local Plan is not due to be released until 2023.
Fearing an appeal to the rejection by Mactaggart and Mickel, Mr Osborne says:
“It’s such a major application I wouldn’t be surprised if that was where we’re headed. For us, it’s a case of ‘so far so good’. We mustn’t be complacent.”
Developer Mactaggart and Mickel declined to comment on the decision.
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