Together with local residents and the Save Calcot Action Group (www.savepincentshill.co.uk
), local Councillors Joe Mooney, Tony Linden and Emma Webster and Alok successfully campaigned from September 2008 to June 2011 to stop developer Blue Living’s plans to build on Pincents Hill.
In 2009, developer Blue Living submitted a formal planning application to build 750 new homes and increase commercial capacity on the Pincents Hill site in Calcot. The vast majority of local residents opposed the proposed development arguing that the estimated extra 1,000-1,500 cars that this would bring to the local area would cause misery on already congested roads. It was also argued that the development would put huge pressure on already squeezed local services and the resulting loss of green space would seriously impinge on the quality of life of local residents.
Achievements in the campaign:
In response to the proposed development, Alok along with local Councillors took part in several public meetings and organised a survey in an attempt to gauge local opinion.
The survey had an overwhelming 896 responses, many submitting detailed comments and concerns. These included the likely negative impact on traffic flows, the impact on local public services such as schools and doctors’ surgeries, and the impact on the environment and wildlife and the potential loss of a valuable green space.
Presented with such a clear demonstration of public opinion, West Berkshire Council took the decision to exclude Pincents Hill as a ‘strategic site’ from its local development plan at a meeting held in January 2010.
Blue Living’s application was heard and rejected by West Berkshire Council's Eastern Area Planning Committee during a public planning meeting in February 2010.
Blue Living launched an appeal against the Council’s decision.
Alok spoke out against the development at a Public Inquiry, and in June 2011 Blue Living’s appeal was rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and by the Planning Inspector.
“This is absolutely the right decision and a clear victory for localism. I want to pay tribute to all the local residents, especially the Chairman of SCAG Joan Lawrie, who have worked so hard and with such great determination to fight off Blue Living’s unwelcome development plans. Quite simply this was the wrong development in the wrong place and I hope this puts an end to any plans, by anyone to build on Pincents Hill.”