A controversial project for hundreds of homes on the outskirts of a town in Berkshire has been approved.

For a number of years, there has been a project to build hundreds of homes in the Sandleford area just south of Newbury, land which was made famous by the children’s novel Watership Down.

Now, 360 homes are set to be built for the Sandleford Park West project which was approved by West Berkshire Council after a four-and-a-half hour meeting.

A packed council chamber saw residents, ward councillors and Newbury Town Council object to the proposal, particularly from the Say No To Sandleford campaign group.

Its spokesperson Mr Hammond said: “We are tired of being taken for granted by developers and council officers.

“We have been serially patronised throughout, and I doubt anything I say will make difference but it needs to be said.

“We don’t need another development – four substantial developments are being dumped on us at the same time. We are being taken for granted.”

He was referring to the 800 homes approved by the planning inspector at Sandleford Park East by Bloor Homes on appeal after the plans were rejected, plus the 270 at Wash Water and 75 more near Newbury College.

Reading Chronicle: The full development site for Sandleford Park south of Newbury, with the western development for 360 homes outlined in red.The full development site for Sandleford Park south of Newbury, with the western development for 360 homes outlined in red. (Image: Donnington New Homes)

Meanwhile, councillor Carolyn Culver (Green, Ridgeway) said: “The amount of traffic generated by two huge construction projects will cause a lot of disruption.”

Paul Dick (Con, Chieveley and Cold Ash) supported the proposal, saying there was a great need for new homes in Newbury as did Denise Gaines (Lib Dem, Hungerford and Kintbury) stating the ‘desperate’; need for affordable and social housing in the district.

READ MORE: West Berkshire Local Plan for over 3000 homes MUST go ahead, government rules 

A main bone of contention, other than fears of traffic chaos and danger to children at Park House and Falkland schools was the single access road at Warren Road which narrows to a pinch point and only allows for a single pedestrian pathway.

The officers stated that the road narrowing was there to slow traffic down.

David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) told the meeting the only reason the pinch point was being proposed was because the person whose house was on that section of the road does not want to sell their house, thus preventing the two-sided pavement being proposed.

“We live there and we see what the traffic is like,” he said.

“Residents feel badly let down.  There will be years of noise, disruption and traffic.

“Enough is surely enough.

“These big out-of-town developments are not green and not sustainable. Does West Berkshire even need this development?”

But the highways officers at the council said they had hired consultants to model traffic flow, and suggested that this would have all been considered when the site was allocated for strategic housing development back in 2012.

Paul Goddard, highways head, said: “I accept there will be much local concern about traffic on the Andover Road but this would have been considered when the core strategy was developed 12 years ago.”

He added that because the East and West sites were ‘separate’ developments, the access roads were proposed separately, but ultimately, both sites would have a total of four access roads.

“The two sites will join up… but will take six years for Bloor Homes to build it to the boundary of the Donnington New Homes site,” he added.

He said the modelling showed no significant impact on the area’s roads and recommended the application be approved.

Warren Road will be widened to allow for the Number 2 bus route to extend through both sites – once the link road is completed.

There will be a 20mph speed limit across the site with traffic calming measures, and around £15m has been allocated in the plans to expand the roads and roundabouts leading to the sites.

Newbury Town Council’s Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Wash Common) contested the highways officer’s optimism: “The view of the council has not changed.

“We have a strong view that despite proposed improvements it will cause unacceptable congestion on Andover Road.

“The junction is already chaotic at school times.

“Add in the effects of extra traffic joining can only add to road safety issues.

“Pick-up and drop-off happens on the road there.

“As a local town councillor we don’t have access too traffic modelling but we have access to a lot of residents who say this is a crazy place for access.”

The Sandleford Park West site has no school proposed, whereas there is a school proposed at the larger neighbouring site.

There are also no shops or amenities planned for the West site, prompting further fears from residents that traffic would also increase as people drove to the shops.

The applicant, Mark Norgate of Donnington New Homes, left his agents to do the talking at the meeting on Wednesday, April 24.

They said first show homes would be up by summer 2025 with 60 units a year built after that, completing in spring 2032.

Forty percent of the 360 homes will be ‘affordable’.

You can view the approved plans by typing reference 23/01585/OUTMAJ into West Berkshire Council's planning website.