DEVELOPERS behind a project to build 401 homes near Newbury may not deliver the project that was promised because there’s been an “erosion of what was expected”.

That’s the message from councillor Lynne Doherty, leader of West Berkshire Council, who raised concerns during a discussion about plans to build hundreds of homes on 52-acres on countryside in Shaw-cum-Donnington.

Outline planning permission for the development was refused in November 2015, but that decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in March 2017, following an appeal.

David Wilson Homes plans to build 222 homes on the western side of the site, while Taylor Wimpey is looking to construct 179 homes on the eastern side.

A primary school and local centre will also be built on the site.

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Both developers have successfully applied for several planning conditions to be removed, including one that required a local centre to be built on the site during the first phase of the development.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 grants councils the power to impose conditions when they approve planning permission.

They can impose a range conditions, such as ones which require developers to build affordable housing, make improvements to nearby roads, provide green space or carry out various impact assessments.

After the meeting, Cllr Doherty said: “It has happened over a two-year period, where the odd condition has been changed, but when you add all of those up, it’s quite an erosion of what was expected when outline planning permission was granted.

“Because those conditions have already been discharged, it’s too late to come back.

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“And because this application came through on appeal, it doesn’t feel like we’ve had the same voice and consultation.”

She added: “Gradually, what we were offered and what the residents were told has been eroded over some time and it has lasting implications.”

Reserved matters planning applications for both developments on the site near Vodafone’s headquarters in Newbury were approved by West Berkshire Council’s Western Area Planning Committee on Wednesday, September 24.

The meeting heard that various West Berkshire developments have been significantly altered during the planning process as developers have managed to get a range of planning conditions discharged in recent years.

This practice has been branded ‘planning by ratchet’ by one councillor.

'We’re now faced with a very different creature'

Cllr Tony Vickers (Liberal Democrat) told the meeting it was “very disappointing” to see that several “excellent conditions” have been discharged.

He said: “We’re now faced with a very different creature – a creature that will begin without life, as a sort of monster.

“If you take away a centre and a school from a development of this size, you are left with something that is lifeless and not what you thought it was going to be.”

Cllr Steve Masters, who represents Newbury Speen, also told the committee that developers often make “lofty promises” about providing affordable housing but then fail to deliver.

“Any commitment must be robustly enforced,” he said.

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The National Planning Policy Framework states conditions should only be imposed when they are necessary, enforceable, precise and reasonable.

It adds: “Conditions that are required to be discharged before development

commences should be avoided, unless there is a clear justification.”

At the meeting, David Wilson Homes said their “high quality development” will provide “much needed housing” and it “accords with the outline planning consent and planning policy”.

Taylor Wimpey said their development is “consistent with the outline application” and it will provide “an attractive and high-quality development”.