Berkeley facing 180-home housing development
BERKELEY residents fear that a180-home residential development would shatter the atmosphere of the historic market town.
Charles Church Ltd, a subsidiary of Persimmon Homes, is targeting fields to the east of Berkeley which have been previously considered for development in 1997 and 2005, leading to the establishment of the Association of Berkeley Residents Against Insensitive Development (ABRAID).
Concerns include parts lying within a floodplain and holding extensive landfill and the presence of a significant colony of great crested newts, a protected species.
The 11-hectare site borders the main B4066 Berkeley to Sharpness road to the north and a section of the south eastern corner of the site falls within the Berkeley Conservation Area.
Residents turned out in force to the Berkeley Town Council planning meeting on Monday, October 7.
However the 30-plus residents filling the top floor of the town hall were left none the wiser about the proposals as councillors decided they did not have enough information to make a recommendation.
Councillors agreed to adjourn the meeting after just 15 minutes until they had met with the developer.
Stroud District Council (SDC) said an environmental impact assessment will be required for the site, citing the range of heritage assets in close proximity, including Berkeley Castle and St Mary’s Church, along with the county archaeologist’s suggestion that there may be significant Roman and prehistoric archaeological remains on the site itself.
ABRAID spokesman and Berkeley resident John Stanton said this was unusual for a housing development of this size and demonstrated the sensitivity of the site in question.
“Our primary concern is the impact on the town itself. It (the development) is far too large. ABRAID has a good and very active membership of a couple of hundred residents who are very concerned,” he said.
Berkeley resident Brian Butcher added that it was misguided to assume that more housing would automatically enhance the town’s businesses.
An SDC spokesman said: “Discussions such as these are standard practice in advance of applications being submitted.
"Should an application be submitted we can assure the community that they will be consulted as part of the normal planning process. Land east of Berkeley has not been identified as appropriate for development in our local plan.”
Peter Stockall from property consultants GVA, who are handling Charles Church's application, said they would be meeting with Berkeley Town Council soon.
They aim to submit a full planning application this autumn, with construction expected to start in mid to late 2014 if planning permission is granted and would expect to take around four years.
A GVA spokesman said the plans were for a development of around 180 two, three and four-bedroom properties, with the emphasis on attracting younger couples and families into the town as well as including 30 per cent as affordable housing.
"This is a sensitive site and we are currently preparing detailed reports on key technical issues including heritage, drainage, contaminated land, highways and ecology," he said.
"Our response will be closely scrutinised by the district council and English Heritage."
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