A project to build 15,000 homes in a garden town in Grazeley “is not dead” despite concerns about a potential nuclear emergency.

Cllr John Halsall, leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said the scheme has not been scrapped but “alternatives are being investigated”.

It was thrown into doubt, after a Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) was extended to cover most of the site, that is within a couple of miles of nuclear weapons factory AWE Burghfield.

That means that anyone living in the zone could be affected by a “reasonably foreseeable” radiation emergency.

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West Berkshire Council, which extended the DEPZ following a review of emergency plans for AWE Burghfield, was involved in the 15,000-home project for over five years, but it has decided to pull out.

Reading Borough Council has not abandoned the scheme, but says it “cannot be delivered at this time” without the support of the other two councils.

Cllr Halsall said building homes in a DEPZ is “not prohibited” but the council has been forced to reconsider its plans because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has vowed to “oppose tooth and nail any development in Grazeley”.

“It is not dead, but it’s certainly not currently alive,” said Cllr Halsall.

“We are now looking at what we can and can’t do in Grazeley, recognising that Grazeley can only happen if the government smiles upon it, which they are not currently doing.

“In the meantime, the landowners in Grazeley are also calling for a judicial review of the decision made by West Berkshire Council (to extend the DEPZ).”

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Cllr Halsall said a number of other sites are being considered and if any of them are deemed to be suitable, they will be identified when the council publishes its local plan later this year.

The site that was earmarked for the development is on the border that divides West Berkshire and Wokingham.

The project aimed to provide 5,000 homes in West Berkshire and 10,000 in the Wokingham.