Update December 2014 - The rejected application is being appealed by the developers

The developers have appealed against the decision made by West Berkshire Council to reject their planning application. This appeal will be heard at some point in the New Year, possibly by Aoril, and the Planning Inspector will decide if the appeal grounds are good enough.

As part of the reasoning for the rejection, West Berkshire state that the Firlands site is outside the defined settlement boundary, and being green field land, the applications was not in line with West Berkshire housing policies. The developers are saying that West Berkshire have not got their policies correct, and can not show a deliverable 5 year housing supply. This was a similar line of argument from the case that never got to Court last year, but the developers must believe that they stand a better chance pursuing this with the Planning Inspectorate than with the Court.

The developers aim to show that their assessment of how many houses we need is better than West Berkshire Council, and want to add 20% to make sure! They will be using other cases where the Planning Inspector has supported this line of reasoning as their evidence, and were asking for the same Planning Inspector that agreed with them in another appeal.

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The link to Mans Hill

Gladman developments are also appealing against a similar West Berkshire planning refusal for their Mans Hill plan, and Pegasus, acting for Henry Davidson, the Firlands developers, asked to have their appeal held alongside that of Gladman.

But it seems Gladman were not keen on this idea, possibly they believe that they will have a better chance on winning their appeal on their own, after all if they are arguing we need more houses, perhaps even they think Mans Hill and Firlands would be too many.

So Gladman’s appeal will be held first, and the result will be known before the Firlands appeal. Hopefully both appeals will be failures.


What can we do?

In theory, local communities are meant to have say in what happens in their areas, this is called “localism” and is considered as important by the Government. West Berkshire used. West Berkshire did mention that the number of letters of objection that they received about the original planning application showed that the proposed development did not have the necessary support of the local population.

A further requirement is that developments be “sustainable” a term which seems to have many meanings, and is therefore not that easy to apply as an argument against developments. The government’s own planning portal suggests “empowering local people to shape their surroundings” is part of sustainable development planning, so we need to use this to demonstrate that we prefer our surroundings as they are.

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RAFS is organising a petition to support the West Berkshire decision to reject the Firlands planning application. We will be at various places round the village over the next couple of weekends, as the closing date for submissions is New Year’s Eve. If you can help get your friends around the village to sign this, we would be very grateful, and if you email us at, we will send you a sheet to use to collect signatures.

We are also recruiting our own planning professionals to help contest the Henry Davidson/Pegasus appeal.

This is the thin edge of a very nasty wedge, more housing and the shops could easily follow - make sure the Planning Inspector knows of your opposition to Firlands

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