Self-build homes proposed for land in Hurst


Developers are circling the green fields of a village hoping to build homes and offer self-build plots – in the high cost area.

But villagers are worried about losing wild birds, newts and animals in fields and leafy lanes, more traffic, loss of green views attracting walkers and cyclists and pressure on the school and other amenities.

Residents have fears for three fields just outside the centre of Hurst.

On Monday they turned out in force, worried about the latest proposal for 33 homes in Broadcommon Road.

Numbers of walkers and cyclists there have risen greatly since covid.

About 40 residents were at the online parish council meeting to see the developers’ presentation.

A member of Protect Hurst Action Group asked: “Bearing in mind this is outside the development limit (for Hurst) and is in a green field how confident are you that this application will be approved and why?”

Matt Ratcliffe said: “You have a field not been touched for many years, with no fertiliser or weed killer. It’s now full of newts, bees, flowers and butterflies. Why not build on a brownfield site?”

And he claimed: “The mice and voles won’t exist when it’s under concrete housing and car park. You’re not interested in enhancing it.”

Hurst Village Society chairman Jo Newbold said: “It’s a very small single track road. With two cars per dwelling there could be at least 66 cars plus visitors. That’s a mammoth amount of traffic going down a very lovely country lane,” she added.

Nicky Ewart said massively more walkers and cyclists now used the lane. Wayne Loader said schools and other amenities would be impacted by a bigger population.

Adam Towle, Leaper Land development director, said there would be 27 houses and six flats. At least 13 of the homes would be affordable.

The homes on the 11 acre site would be custom and self-build, for these the residents acted as their own developer and had a say in their home’s design.

A buffer zone would protect existing habitats. There would be new trees, a new pond and substantial new hedgerow.

“There will still be places nesting birds and greater crested newts can use,” he said.

Scheme planner Natalie Fellows said building had been allowed on appeal in other areas where development controls were found to be out of date. The homes density was considerably lower than the village itself.

She said the new residents’ impact had been studied and shown not to have a bad effect on amenities. She would look into comments about danger for the lane’s users. 

The developers were definitely interested in enhancing wildlife, and there were generous gardens and wildlife corridors.

The affordable homes would ensure people could stay in the village.

And she hoped the planning application would be made at the end of June.

Residents can then send their comments to Wokingham Borough Council who will decide whether to give permission.

Also on Monday, the council agreed they would not support an application for permission for four homes on a field in Sawpit Road, Hurst.

This was because the land was outside the village [development] envelope, it was in an area of special character and on ecological grounds.

One of the councillors, Lady Suzy Watt, withdrew before the discussion because she had an interest in the application.

Hurst Village Society has been  opposing the plan because it is outside the village envelope.

Chairman Jo Newbold said the decision reflected the views of the majority of the committee. She added that Lady Watt, a committee member, left the meeting building when that item came up. 

Earlier this year residents feared there could be fresh attempts to build on land between Tape Lane and Lodge Road after they saw surveys being done on the field.

There is no current application for this.

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