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DEVELOPERS hoping to bring new innovative housing to a former landfill site have been left 'very disappointed' after plans were rejected without being put before councillors.

Berfeld Limited intended to invest £5m on more than 200 new homes, including 24 flood-resistant 'can-float' houses, near Theale Lake.

West Berkshire Council (WBC) officers disregarded the radical plans before they could be seen by the planning committee after more than a year of indecision.

Councillors say the decision was made because the development did not fall within the committee's strict guidelines for projects in areas of open countryside.

A spokesman for Berfeld said: "We are obviously very disappointed at the decision, disregarding local councillors’ pleas for the application to be heard by the planning committee.

"We submitted our application more than a year ago and have been extremely patient as case officers have come and gone, in an effort to work together positively.

"With the support of the local ward member, we asked for this important application to go to committee, so that elected members could consider our proposals, but were turned down by officers on a technicality.

"Members should surely be able to consider such an important application.

"Our plans would have delivered significant infrastructure for the community at no cost to the council taxpayer.

"We estimate the total loss to the community to be in the region of £60m. We are now considering our next steps."

Councillor Ian Morrin, ward member for Burghfield, encouraged officers to give fellow councillors the chance to look at the plans.

However, officers decided to reject the housing development, claiming the impact on the environment and education in the East Kennet Valley would be 'demonstrable'.

Gary Lugg, head of development and planning for WBC explained: "The development fails to have due regard to the sensitivity of the area to change.

"The development is inappropriate in terms of its location and scale and would have a harmful adverse impact on the landscape quality of the area and the character of the Kennet River Valley and on the continuity of character in adjacent landscape character areas.

"The development would also result in clear and demonstrable harm in terms of its visual impacts."