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Update (19th July 2015) - Planning Inspector allows 90 houses on Firlands site

We are disappointed that the Planning Inspector found for Pegasus in their recent appeal against the planning decision by West Berkshire Council. Pegasus managed to show that the Council had not provided enough housing to meet local needs, and effectively argued that the planning process should not constrain their desire to build on a green field site. More here


Whilst pleased that the reduction from a Retail Centre and 290 house estate to 90 dwellings is, an achievement that RAFS is proud to have contributed to, it finds the decision puzzling.

The main issue is the assessment of demand and provision for houses in this area. Rather than accept the West Berks’ assessment, RAFS is disappointed that Inspectorate accepted that the developer’s figures supporting the need  for other up to date research. Thus he re-calculated this (as 833 dwellings per annum) but only for this appeal. So we now have a free-for-all of developers producing their own figures to support their case and influencing future Inspectorates.

RAFS was saddened that the Inspectorate admitted that he has ignored the potential for future development in the Firlands area which RAFS always maintained was a major issue. Woeful is the ignorance of an Inspectorate to refer to Burghfield Common as a village and that the scale of development proposed is not out of keeping with that of the village when the development is in fact not even in Burghfield. It is also somewhat strange to gain a village green on the very edge of a village.

The green area below shows where the 90 houses are to go, along with a screen of trees along Hollybush Lane. The illustrative diagram sent to WBC shows a road ending on the west boundary of the site. A way to more houses perhaps?


From an environmental point of view, the Inspectorate notes that the proposal would provide the opportunity for improved management of the woodland and additional planting. RAFS is unaware who will take up that opportunity. It does not believe that a significant area of public open space is provisioned although it would help to reduce the need to travel but that only benefits future occupants, not current local residents.

RAFs awaits with curiosity what Inspectorate sees as a detailed scheme avoiding any impact on the living conditions of the occupiers of nearby dwellings in terms of privacy and outlook. It is a pity that a judge of this matter only has “hopes” that the impact of noise and disturbance during construction will be a addressed through appropriate working practices and conditions. RAFS would have expected a report to contain more than just hope.


There are 13 conditions that the Inspector has set which the developer will have to comply. So RAFs will still be active, making sure that they do not step out of line with any of these.

1) Work not to start till details of the appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale, (hereinafter called "the reserved matters") submitted & approved.

2) Application for approval of 1) made to planning authority in not more than 3 years.

3) Work starts in not later than two years time.

4) Development in accordance with Location Plan – EMS.2458_004 A; Proposed Access Arrangements – P518/14 Rev B

5) No more than 90 houses according to Revised Parameters Plan EMS.2458_008C.

6) Work not to start till affordable housing submitted & approved

7) Work not to start till off-site highway improvement (Hollybush Lane Option 1 Ref. P518/18) submitted & approved by the local planning authority.

8) Work not to start till a Travel Plan, based submitted & approved.

9) Work not to start till surface water drainage scheme submitted & approved.

10) No occupants till disposal of sewage submitted & approved.

11) Work not to start till construction management plan submitted & approved.

12) Work not to start till bird & bat boxes submitted & approved.

13) Work not to start till  fire hydrants submitted & approved.

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