The Wokingham Paper

Finchampstead resident calls on compulsory planning notices

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A FINCHAMPSTEAD resident is calling on the council to make the display of planning notices compulsory for all new developments. 

Michale Noak had been walking his dog in Rook’s Nest Wood Country Park for many years when he began to notice a development pop-up at the site.

“First the scrubland was cleared, then a fence was put up, and finally development began for 20 mobile homes.

“I discovered that permission had been granted for the development without the owner needing to display the planning notice.

“This isn’t compulsory but voluntary.

“And they’ve got permission to build another four homes too.”

Mr Noak said he was frustrated he didn’t have the opportunity to comment on the plans. 

“If I want to do my civic duty, I will have to watch the council planning portal every week,” he said. “This was a secret development, presented to us gift wrapped and now there are these mobile homes in the country park. 

“It’s underhand, the developer did this deliberately to keep it under the radar.

“We try to keep this area nice. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with mobile homes, but they have an associated context.

“It’s not the fact they’re there, it’s the way it’s been done.”

Mr Noak explained that he contacted his local councillors and the borough council after discovering the development had been approved. 

Marcia Head, service manager for planning regulation and compliance at the borough council told Finchampstead councillor, Charles Margetts why the notices had not been displayed. 

She said: “Prior to October 2018, we wrote to neighbours within a small radius of the application. This was over and above the statutory requirement, which is adjoining land owners only.

“Simon Weeks agreed that we could go down to the statutory minimum provided that we continue to send a site notice to the agent/applicant and ask them to voluntarily pin up the notice. We do continue to send these voluntary notices. 

“The Statement of Community Involvement was amended to take out the bit which said the Council would consult within a radius which allowed us to go down to the statutory minimum and which has speeded up the process and reduced costs.”

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