Controversial plans to build a business park have been approved by councillors – despite the fact that it will mean losing some countryside land.

Developers want to build 11 warehouse, office and industrial units along with cafes or canteens just next to Bridge Farm business park on Reading Road.

Neighbours worried that the development would damage the ancient woodland of Pound Copse that would run right down the business park’s eastern flank. But councillors were told the wood wouldn’t be harmed – and that the economic benefits outweighed rules that protect the countryside.

David Cornish, chair of Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee, said he felt “conflicted” about the plans.

He said he felt the plans were a “good idea” even though they went against several rules set by the government and the council itself.

He said: “I find myself very conflicted by this application. It’s more often the case that applications come before this committee where you intuitively feel this is a bad idea to build whatever it might be here, but there’s a raft of policies telling you that we should.

“But here we have an application effectively an extension to an existing business park which feels like quite a good idea, with a raft of policies telling us that we shouldn’t.”

READ MORE: Business park proposed on Arborfield countryside land

Council planning officer Brian Conlon said the decision wasn’t “clear cut” – but that policies encouraging economic benefits had to be weighed against those protecting the countryside.

He pointed to a government policy that puts “significant weight” on “the need to support economic growth and productivity.” However, he admitted this “doesn’t trump everything.”

Several residents wrote to the council to object to the plans, with many raising fears for the wildlife in Pound Copse.

Peter Tyers of Arborfield, said the lives of people and wildlife would be “blighted” by the effects of the development.

He said: “The residents of Greensward Lane, together with the wildlife sustained by Pound Copse, will be affected by the pollution, noise, dust, light, created by any development. Lives already blighted by the construction of Observer Way and its subsequent use.”

But councillors were told that council environment officers had no objections to the plans, and that developers’ had done an ecological survey that found the woodland would be unaffected.

Councillor Andrew Mickleburgh said he thought the development would bring “multiple harms.” But he also agreed the potential economic benefits “would outweigh the harms.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans at a meeting on Wednesday, November 8.