Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has approved a mixed-use residential-led scheme at a site at Tadley near the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment.
CALA Homes wanted to demolish a hall used by local scouts, relocate an electricity sub-station and develop the site for 115 new homes, some 945 square metres of B1 floor space, public open space and car-parking.
The inspector who held an inquiry into the proposals recommended refusal on the grounds that residents would be at risk of a potentially harmful dose of radioactivity in the event of an accident at the nuclear research facility.
Both the inspector and Pickles concluded that the site was currently visually unattractive and under-utilised and that the development was in line with national policy to make use of previously developed land.
The minister, however, disagreed with the inspector’s recommendation to refuse the scheme on the grounds of health risk. His decision letter made it clear that the application was in line with the development plan and affordable housing policies of the local planning authority involved, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
He concluded that those factors outweighed the “extremely remote possibility of the type of incident occurring which could give rise to the factors weighing against the scheme. He does not therefore consider that there are material considerations of sufficient weight to justify refusing planning permission”.
The minister’s decision was welcomed by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council which had favoured approving planning permission. The lead member on planning, councillor Rob Golding, said: “Residents have told us that they want us to reuse ‘brownfield’ sites for new housing development. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed with the council that planning permission should be granted. This supports our view that the benefits of development for the people of Tadley are greater than the remote risk associated with development near to AWE.
“We are working to provide the right homes in the right places in the borough to meet the future needs of our communities and this is a good example of a site that is ready to be developed. It will provide much-needed market and affordable homes, small scale employment opportunities and new community facilities. It will also improve the look and use of a site that is unattractive and derelict. All this will bring a real benefit to residents of Tadley."
23 June 2011