An unpopular plan to build seven homes in a ‘backland development’ near Ascot has been refused.

Housebuilding company Nicholas King Homes wanted to add one three-bedroom and six seven-bedroom homes to their Furzefield development at 89 Lock’s Ride in Winkfield Row.

The plan would have seen the homes built on an untouched field between Lock’s Ride and Chavey Down Road.

However, the plan was rejected Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee recently. 

READ MORE: Plan to bulldoze house and build nine homes in Winkfield Row submitted

The committee felt that adding seven homes to the site would be a significant backland development in an ‘inappropriate and unsustainable location’ in the countryside.

Ruth Lyes, a resident who objected to the plan, pointed out that there are no shops or surgeries within walking distance, and that bus services are almost non-existent.  

Wesley McCarthy, speaking for the developers, argued the plan should be approved as Bracknell Forest does not have a ‘five year land supply’. 

The term was coined in 2012 as part of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in an effort to encourage councils to approve housebuilding projects.

The NPPF requires councils to have enough sites ready for development to meet their housing need for the next five years. Bracknell Forest only has a 4.2 year land supply, according to figures in April 2021.

If a council cannot demonstrate a five year land supply, developers have more freedom to apply to build houses in areas of land not allocated in a Local Plan, and are more likely to win if they bring an appeal to the Government’s planning inspectorate.

But the plan for Furzefield still proved unpopular with the planning committee, who rejected it by three votes to two.

Bracknell News: A view of the masterplan for the Locks Ride development, which involves building a total of 13 homes between Ascot and Winkfield Row, with the refused seven home plan outlined in red. Credit: Ascot DesignA view of the masterplan for the Locks Ride development, which involves building a total of 13 homes between Ascot and Winkfield Row, with the refused seven home plan outlined in red. Credit: Ascot Design

A similar plan to build seven homes was refused in 2019, with members of the committee arguing it should be refused again.

Councillor Tony Virgo (Conservative, Winkfield & Cranbourne) said: “It was refused by the majority of members.

“I am well aware we do need houses in this country, but we also need green space.

“The reason people move to this wonderful borough of Bracknell Forest is because it has green space.

“But as soon as you put houses on every bit of green space, clearly it will not be a great place to live.”

Cllr Virgo raised concerns about traffic and flooding in Winkfield Row, which he argued would worsen if the houses got built.

READ MORE: Thames Water confronted over raw sewage flooding in Winkfield Row

Yet fears were raised that the council could be financially penalised if the developers chose to appeal the refusal.

Cllr Dale Birch (Conservative, Little Sandhurst and Wellington) said: “If we do go to appeal and we’ve not got sound material reasons, then costs will be awarded against us, then we end up the taxpayers paying, and the site still goes ahead.”

At one point, Cllr Virgo angrily interrupted Cllr Birch during the discussion.

The development had been recommended for approval by planning officer Paul Corbett, but a vote on the recommendation failed by three votes to two.

Cllr Virgo introduced the alternative motion to refuse the plan, with councillors Ray Mossom (Conservative, Owlsmoor) and Jennie Green (Conservative, Priestwood and Garth) also voting to refuse it, and councillors Birch and Michael Brossard (Conservative, Central Sandhurst) voting against refusal.

The decision was made at a meeting on Thursday, December 2.