Protestors in mini-town battle againBy Lewis Rudd
April 06, 2009
Protestors are preparing to fight again plans for a mini town at Sandford Farm after the developer decided to go to appeal.
Woodley Developments Ltd has handed over its ambitious scheme for the former landfill site to the government inspector after Wokingham Borough Council refused planning permission.
The plans include 492 homes, a 150-unit retirement centre, business and retail floor space, a community hall and energy centre.
In January planning bosses unanimously threw the application out but the team behind the scheme has now sought the help of an independent inspector as they look to have the decision reversed.
Members of Loddon Valley Action Group (LVAG), which has successfully fended off controversial developments at the site in the past, says it will resort to the war chest in their efforts to stave off the financial strengths of the developers.
David Parker, chairman of the group, said: “Things are starting to heat up again at Sandford Farm and we have been made aware that an appeal has been lodged over the recently refused application.
“We are also led to believe that it takes a matter of months for it to come to process so the appeal could take place in the autumn, which gives us a bit of time to organise our expert witnesses to prepare their arguments against the plans.
“That’s what we are doing at the moment, putting together our case to the appeal. We have already had some phone calls and promises of support both financially and in time from residents.
“But we have got to assess how much we need from our war chests because the developers are trying to beat us into submission by using the power of the chequebook rather than the power of argument.”
The chairman also revealed how members of the group recently visited the examination of the council’s Core Strategy, the blueprint for future development in Wokingham, to try and have Sandford Farm removed from a list of sites proposed to accommodate 13,500 homes.
Mr Parker said: “A couple of our members went along to follow the consultation. We have made our case but a lot of our members work during the day so it has been difficult to attend, but we hope our representations are taken into consideration.
“If the Core Strategy was to come out and have Sandford Farm removed from housing then it would weaken any applications considerably.
“We are in a rather unfortunate situation because of the differences in finances, but we would hope the council would trust its planning committee for its reasons in refusing development at this site.”
A spokesman for Wokingham Borough Council has confirmed local residents have been informed of the appeal, but said any objections and representations must now be lodged with the planning inspectorate and not the council.
The date of the appeal will be made public once it has been decided.
Anyone wanting to make representations can visit www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk.