Community feels ‘betrayed’ by plans for 634 homes in Southwater

Artist's impression of green belt
Artist's impression of green belt

A spokesman for a residents’ campaign group has said Southwater’s community has been ‘betrayed’ by plans for a 634 home development.

Berkeley Homes revealed its initial draft plan to build 634 homes in land west of Southwater last week.

This came after the developer withdrew a plan for ‘up to 550 homes’ last year.

This was due to concerns about the development’s impact on Great House Farm, located within the land allocated for development.

Ian Thwaites, of Keep Southwater Green (KSG), has posted a message on KSG’s website home page stating that to plan for this number of homes was a ‘betrayal’ of the community’s trust.

He said: “We felt this was a betrayal of the whole community.

“The number discussed was always ‘in the region of 500’ and there was a strong argument that it should be rather less because Southwater has already accepted the best part of 200 in the last couple of years.

“HDC had asked for both KSG’s trust and that of the village as a whole.

“It had been given by us as a group.

“Both we and you had made clear the reluctance we all felt and that there was an overwhelming feeling still in the village that we had had enough development.

“Despite all that here was the Developer – and by repute the most amenable of Developers – immediately breaching the numbers by nearly 30 per cent.

“We have said this is totally unacceptable. We have made it quite clear that for any community in this present day and age to trust a developer and a district council takes a leap of faith – and yet our trust was requested in the overall interests of the whole region.

“Certainly all the groups from other parts of the District will be confirmed in their noisily held belief that you cannot deal with our District Council because it is not trustworthy.

“Nobody will benefit – not even the developer who will face yet another expensive battle try to obtain his pound of flesh – and trust once lost is far harder to regain.”

l Berkeley Homes plans to submit its new planning application in spring this year. It will hold two public exhibitions of the plans at Beeson House, Lintot Square, from 6pm to 9pm on February 28 and 10am to 2pm on March 1.