Many of my Reading West constituents will remember developer Blue Living submitting a planning application in 2009 to build a very large number of houses and commercial units on Pincents Hill. Together with the brilliant campaigners from the Save Calcot Action Group, united with local people, we managed to get this application rejected and retain a valuable green space.
But with a new site owner deciding to have another go at building on Pincents Hill, I launched a survey in October last year targeted at homes in the surrounding area to gauge current local opinion. 740 households responded to the survey demonstrating the continuing strength of local feeling. The full survey results can be found at https://www.aloksharma.co.uk/campaigns/pincentshillresults, but the overall message was clear.
A significant majority of those responding to my survey still do not want to see any homes built on Pincents Hill. The issues remain the same as before. Huge concerns about the pressure any new development would put on local public services like schools, doctors’ surgeries and roads, as well as the loss of a valued green space used by local people.
In recent days the new site owner, U+I plc, has had its formal planning application to build on Pincents Hill validated by West Berkshire Council. It wants to build 265 houses and a mixed use building. For those interested in the details of this planning application it’s number is 19/00113/OUTMAJ on West Berkshire Council’s website.
Local residents have a deadline of Monday 11th February 2019 to make their views known on the application. This can be done via the Council’s online Public Access system, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or writing to the Head of Development and Planning at Planning Policy, Planning and Countryside, West Berkshire Council, Market Street, Newbury, RG14 5LD.
As a former Housing and Planning Minister I am acutely aware of the overall need to build more homes. And there is a great deal the government is doing, together with private developers, housing associations and local councils to encourage home building. But ultimately homes need to be sustainable and the local infrastructure needs to be in place to support their impact.
If my constituents want to see Pincents Hill retained as a valuable local amenity they need to make their views clear to West Berkshire Council. The collective local voice has prevailed before, and I want to see it prevail again.