As has been widely reported, here and elsewhere, there are currently plans to build 119 homes on what is to the south of (and currently outside) Hungerford, off the Salisbury Road (A338). This is the plan currently favoured by West Berkshire Council. Hungerford Town Council, on the other hand, feels that the use of various discrete sites in and around the town will be far preferable.
The application can be viewed by clicking here.
There was a public meeting at the Hungerford Corn Exchange at 7pm on Monday 9 January at which this application was discussed. You can read a report of the meeting here.
Click on map below and it will open full size in a separate tab:
How you can have your say
• Have a look at the plans by clicking here. You can then follow WBC’s procedure for responding. Please click here for more information on objecting to or supporting a planning application.
• Attend the meeting of Hungerford Town Council at the Corn Exchange at 7pm on Monday 9 January 2017.
• You can also email email@example.com with your comments quoting application number 16/03061/OUTMAJ.
• You can also write to The Head of Planning, West Berkshire Council, Market Street, Newbury, RG14 5LD quoting application number 16/03061/OUTMAJ
• Please tell anyone you know to refer to this page (which will be updated as new information becomes available) if they want to influence what Hungerford will be like in the future.
Please ensure your comments are received before Wednesday 11 January.
We have today (6 Jan) been asked to stress by a Hungerford Town Councillor that this isn’t a ‘one or the other’ planning application issue. Each application is, quite rightly, considered on its merits. While the decision taken will in each case take into account national or regional policy about the total number of homes that need to be built in a particular area during a particular period, it should not be assumed that if the application for 119 homes is accepted then no further planning applications in Hungerford would be submitted or approved. Any comments made (see below for details on how you can make your views known) should thus be for or against the current application for 119 homes. The proposals submitted by Hungerford Town Council are merely suggested alternatives as to how this level of housing could be accommodated in Hungerford in a different way.
Hungerford Town Council’s (draft) Objection to Planning Application 16/03061/OUTMAJ
The Town Council wishes to object to the planning application for 119 houses south of Hungerford, off Salisbury Road for the following reasons (text in bold has been highlighted thus by Penny Post).
1) The planning application is submitted before the draft DPD plan has been produced and the planning inspector raised concerns about the site during the Examination in Public (EIP). On 13th July 2016 as the Hungerford session was being concluded he stated that he was concerned that site HUN007 was not the best and that ‘other options were more in accord with the NPPF’. Any application on the site must await this Draft document and should also be an adopted plan. The consequences of this site have planning permission would affect other planning applications being submitted and it could be a free for all in terms of development in the AONB;
2) The 119 houses are 19% more than the 100 dwellings stated in the draft DPD.
3) The area for development in the draft DPD indicated half of the field being developed, but the layout with the application shows some two thirds being taken up, about a 50% increase. See the drawing above.
This is related to point 2, and reflects that the number of dwelling should be below 100. It is suggested that if the site were to proceed then 50 would be a more appropriate number, as the 100 dwellings target for Hungerford will easily be achieved with this number by 2026.
4) The development is in the highest impact location for the town in terms of traffic. Lower impact locations are available in more sustainable locations nearer to the town centre. The impact would depend on the trip generation rates, but a daily rate of 5-6 car trips per day would be typical for a development such as this which would result in 600-700 trips per day. Some 95% of these would be added to an already congested and environmentally damaged street which has many sensitive environmental receptors. In the peak hour there is congestion and this will be increase with about 70 extra vehicles per hour. Alternatives exist with a lesser impact and we have a duty to allocate housing which minimises the impact on the High Street/
5) Due to the increases in congestion in the High Street and Bridge Street, here will be two significant additional impacts:
a) alternative unsuitable narrow roads will be used. Notably, there will be additional traffic routeing through the Common, Denford, Park Street, Sanham Green and Horn Hills. These are narrow rural lanes, there is live cattle on the Common which are being regularly hit and in some cases killed by speeding traffic. There is also the Denford/A4 junction which is a dangerous location with many accidents in recent years. The narrow rail bridge will also be at greater risk of being damaged and a safety risk to trains, as recently happened on the narrow bridge at Froxfield;
b) economic damage done to the many shops that line the High Street and Bridge Street as visitors will be discouraged from walking adjacent to the higher volumes of traffic.
6) The development is the highest impact location for landscape, on an exposed and high location. Lower impact locations are available.
7) No exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated that it is the public interest to develop this major site in the AONB. National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) para 116 is very clear that this does need to be demonstrated and this work has never been done. We list out para 116, as the Council find it incredible that West Berks and the applicant seem to have ignored this clear guidance:
‘116. Planning permission should be refused for major developments in these designated areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest. Consideration of such applications should include an assessment of:
• the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;
• the cost of, and the scope for developing elsewhere outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
• and detrimental effects on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.’
The Planning Statement produced by the applicant covers paragraph 116 on page 15 in sections 3.37 to 3.41. Section 3.37 is quoting para 116 which leaves four short paragraphs to address the requirements. This is woefully inadequate and no exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated against the assessment bullet points above.
8) The site is 100% outside the settlement boundary and alternatives exist with some development in the settlement boundary which has much less impact on the landscape of the AONB. It has never been understood the justification by WBC to only consider sites outside the settlement boundary in the AONB. The reason given was because that is what they did in locations that were not AONB….which is not technical justification at all. The AONB has very special protection, unlike the rest of West Berkshire and as referred it has the same level of protection as a National Park and therefore deserves special treatment. We quote again from the NPPF, para 115:
‘Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, The Broads and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.’
Great weight to protecting this part of the AONB seems to be lacking. The Planning Statement also addresses para 115 on page 15 in sections 3.36 and 3.41. The Statement seems to gloss over it and somehow suggests the proposals are consistent with both paras 115 and 116, neither of which is the case.
9) The new roundabout with street lighting will have a significant visual impact on the landscape. It is along a ridge and will be viewed from many miles away in the AONB.
Hungerford Town Council’s Multiple Site Proposal
The sites proposed by Hungerford Town Council are shown in yellow on the map above.
Most people accept that Hungerford is able to, and is required to, absorb 100-odd new houses and so any objections to either plan don’t involve any element of nimby-ism. Many traders in the town would also welcome the additional footfall: although, as mentioned above, the single option is likely to confer less benefit as fewer journeys are likely to made on foot. The question is rather one of avoiding the problem from which so many towns have faced, that of deciding in haste and repenting at leisure about developments that have proved to be unsuitable.
There is no question that the addition of 100-odd new homes will change Hungerford in one way or another. That point is agreed by all. West Berkshire Council, based in Newbury, believes that the single option presents the better option. Hungerford Town Council, based in Hungerford, prefers the multiple option. Hungerford will be stuck with whichever decision is taken. What do you think?
West Berkshire Council claims that most Hungerford residents support the single option. Whichever option you support you need to make your views known.
Hungerford Town Council
Although not adopted as formal policy by Hungerford Town Council, the points below are used as guidance when assessing an application.
HTC should be considering how the planning application affects the community looking mainly at:
the proposed development’s size
how the site will function
the development’s relationship with its surroundings.
West Berkshire Council’s decision will be guided mainly by its policies. HTC’s criteria may be different and should consider various matters about the development including:
if it is likely to have an effect on local wildlife;
if it provides the opportunity for improving local services in our area;
if it complements the local character;
if it is likely to set a precedent for a pattern of development that is not sustainable;
if it is likely is to be a stepping stone to something that would be unacceptable;
if it can be improved by the local knowledge HTC is able to provide.
This post will be updated as further information becomes available.
Please feel free to comment on any aspect of this post using the section below. if you want to comment on the proposal to West Berkshire Council you need also to do this directly to them (see above).