Councillors Joe Mooney, Emma Webster and Tony Linden, together with Alok Sharma, held a public meeting on 3 November regarding developer Blue Living’s proposals to submit an outline planning application during early 2009 to build up to 900 homes on the Pincents Hill site in Tilehurst. West Berkshire Council’s Planning Policy Manager Bryan Lyttle also participated in the meeting.
Over 250 people packed into the British Legion Hall in Tilehurst to listen to presentations on planning matters and key issues already raised by residents in respect of a potential development, relating to concerns about the impact on traffic, schools, local health services, the environment and wildlife. Following the presentations local residents took the opportunity to ask questions about the potential development and voice their concerns about the detrimental impact of the development on the local community.
Alok Sharma commented: “My position is absolutely clear, I am totally opposed to this development and want us to retain the green space at Pincents Hill and maintain the very important strategic gap between Tilehurst and Theale. Local residents are rightly concerned about the prospect of up to 900 homes being dumped at their backdoor and the resulting impact on local traffic, on public services such as healthcare and education, on the environment and wildlife and the loss of a valuable green space. Together with all residents we will fight this development tooth and nail – it cannot be a case of development at any cost and a unique green space like Pincents Hill, once lost, cannot be replaced.”
Councillor Joe Mooney said: “All the local Birch Copse councillors are, like the local residents, against this development which will be a blight on the landscape. There is enormous pressure from central Government for us to build a minimum of 10,500 extra homes by 2026 in West Berkshire but without new Government funded infrastructure to go with all these new homes we will just end up putting an impossible strain on existing local residents and local services. Some years ago the local councillors were involved in the fight to stop the Charles Church development on this site. We mobilised local support and together with local residents defeated that development. In my view nothing has changed since then and one could argue it has become even more important that we retain the green gap at Pincents Hill.”
Councillor Emma Webster added: “I hope we were able to answer many of the questions raised by local residents at the meeting. This is only the start of the campaign and we will now circulate a questionnaire to homes across Tilehurst, Calcot and Theale to collect all views. We need to gather as much support as possible in the campaign to save Pincents Hill and will work closely with all residents to ensure we achieve the right result.”