Monday, 06 April 2020

More new homes would be flood risk, says councillor

NEW homes built on two sites in Charvil earmarked for development would be at risk of flooding, says a councillor.

Emma Hobbs, who represents the village on Wokingham Borough Council, says she is concerned that Charvil has been allocated almost 160 homes in the council’s draft local plan.

The document proposes that 85 homes could be built on land east of Park View Drive North and another 75 on land west of Park Lane.

Councillor Hobbs says the village should accept a fair share of the additional 5,000 homes that the borough has to accommodate over the next 16 years but investment in infrastructure will be needed too.

She said: “To be quite honest, none of us wants any development at all but I appreciate that everybody has to take a small hit if at all possible. It is not fair if we don’t take anything.

“This is not a huge hit — it is just to take the pressure off places like Twyford.

“But while the Government says you have to build all these houses what are they going to do to help us? We need another doctor’s surgery. We have a school but it is going to be full soon.

“We have a road in the A4 that is blocked every morning and if there is an accident then God help you.”

Twenty-five homes are currently under construction on land west of Park Lane after a successful appeal by Hicks Developments in 2016.

The borough council had refused to grant planning permission, saying the development would make the countryside appear “substantially more urbanised”.

Now the site has been earmarked for more homes.

Cllr Hobbs, who lives on Old Bath Road, Charvil, said: “I’m very annoyed because it was agreed only 25 houses would be built.

“We didn’t want many of the developments that have been suggested in recent years but we have got them anyway.

“I have always taken the attitude that, even if it is just two or three houses, it is better to have it under your control rather than the developers having control.”

She said that both allocated sites, particularly the one off Park View Drive North, had been shown to be a flood risk following the heavy rain recently.

Cllr Hobbs said: “We have water in all the fields and when you build all these houses, where is the water going to go?

“It is all well and good saying you want houses built but what are you going to do about the water?

“To be quite honest with you, I could see someone suing in the future if their house is flooded multiple times. The fields have been covered in water all the way round and we have become almost an island.

“They keep building but there is no infrastructure to get rid of this water.”

Charvil Parish Council says it objects to the Park View Drive North land being included in the plan.

A spokeswoman said: “When the original call for sites for the local plan was made in 2016, Charvil Parish Council responded to those put forward, including the sites east and west of Park View Drive North, land west of Milestone Avenue and the parcel of land currently being developed on Park Lane.

“To all these sites, the response was that there were major concerns about infrastructure, loss of countryside and, in some cases, flooding.

“The position changed somewhat with the granting of permission for the 25 homes on Park Lane.

“The view of the council was, and is, that it would be impossible to defend any further applications on that site and that it would be better to willingly accept some housing there in the hope of working with the borough to improve infrastructure than to oppose everything blindly and having developments imposed on us.

“The council feels that whatever happens, there will be more development on this site and our greatest chance of getting anything for the community was to have the site included in the local plan.

“At no stage did the parish council ever stop opposing the other sites in Charvil but was led to believe that there was not much likelihood of any development in Charvil…due to its lack of facilities and poor infrastructure.

“It was, therefore, a big surprise when the land east of Park View Drive North was included and the parish council intends to respond to the consultation, objecting strongly to this site’s inclusion.”

Public consultation on the draft plan will end on Friday, March 20. To take part, visit bit.ly/37LpGY0

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