THE first phase of the council’s multi-million pound Gorse Ride redevelopment in Finchampstead was approved last night despite opposition from residents.

The building of 36 flats and 10 houses is set to go ahead at Arnett Avenue and Barkham Ride and 93 per cent of these dwellings will be made affordable.

Councillor Pauline Jorgensen, the executive member for housing, said: “This is fantastic news for the Gorse Ride estate, and follows years of hard work in developing our plans.

“Residents have been involved in shaping the new estate early on, and I am pleased for them that we now finally have planning permission for the first phase.”

“Gorse Ride is rich and vibrant community which we are committed to safeguarding now and in the future.”

The redevelopment will see the demolition of 31 existing homes in the area, and this is part of the council’s wider plan to replace a total of 208 dwellings with 290 new houses.

The project could cost the council £30 million.

However the plans were opposed by resident Arch Thompson at a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, October 10 as he told the council that “there are no other three storey buildings in our area.”

He continued: “This will result in an invasion of privacy.”

Mr Thompson also argued that the council had not considered how the affordability of the houses will reduce the price of other houses nearby.

But Chairman of Finchampstead Parish Council Roland Cundy said: “This is in one of the most deprived areas of Finchampstead so these affordable houses are welcome”.

Planning committee member Carl Doran echoed this, saying: “It’s (the application) pretty good. We are getting close to where we need to be. 100% (affordable housing) next time.”

The councillor added that he had “sympathy” for residents who had submitted concerns over potential traffic issues during the construction of the flats and the overbearing quality of the new three-storey buildings.

All council tenants and home owners currently living at Gorse Ride will be eligible to move into a new home on the redeveloped estate.

Tenants will be offered their new home with terms that will “broadly similar” to their current arrangements.

Home-owners will be offered the chance to buy newly-developed homes on the estate of off the site.

Cllr Simon Weeks, ward member for Finchampstead, said: “I support the development. The houses were meant to last 25 years but they have been there for 50 years now.”

Planning committee members approved the application unanimously but another application had more difficulty in being passed through after it emerged that none of 104 apartments proposed to be built in Arborfield would be affordable.

The dwellings are set to be rented properties based between the Secondary School and the Nine Mile Ride Extension and an agent for the site said the new site would be important for encouraging young professionals to stay in the area, with a new clubhouse and gym part of the plans.

However, planning committee member Rachelle Shepherd DuBey said: “We should be building more affordable homes for residents so people can stay here.”

Councillor Carl Doran said about the affordability of the properties: “My sense is we are getting the poor side of the deal. We need affordable housing really badly.”

Arborfield housing developments are required to have 35 per cent affordable housing but an officer explained that these provisions are decided on a site-by-site basis, meaning they will be allocated elsewhere to meet the requirement.

The application was approved despite councillors Carl Doran and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey choosing to vote against and abstain respectively.