Shaw Valley, North Newbury: Resident FAQs
Updated: 2nd September 2022
West Berkshire Council is working closely with Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire and David Wilson Homes as they seek to discharge planning conditions in relation to their developments at Shaw Valley to the north of Newbury. The developments have been granted planning permission, but subject to a number of 'conditions' that must be met.
Both developers have submitted information to the council necessary to discharge the majority of conditions. However, with the introduction of the Government's 'Nutrient Neutrality' requirements, both developers must now seek to mitigate their impact on phosphate discharge. Although the council is the Planning Authority, Natural England, as the statutory consultee, in effect makes the decision on whether the mitigation measures are acceptable. They make a recommendation to the council as to whether the conditions relating to drainage should be discharged or not, and they have not provided the council or developers with clear guidance at this time. We are requesting clarification from Natural England as soon as possible.
Officers continue to prioritise consideration of the information provided, but are unable to confirm a timetable for final approval of information, owing mostly to nutrient neutrality requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a planning condition and what does it mean for a condition to be 'discharged'?
The council (or another authority such as the Planning Inspectorate, as is the case on these sites) can grant permission subject to planning conditions that allow a development to proceed if those conditions are met. Conditions, for example, may limit the size or style of buildings, or they may require new roads to meet a certain standard.
Applicants are required to submit information for these conditions and when the council is satisfied that a developer has met a condition, it will 'discharge' the condition, indicating that they are satisfied. The planning authority will consult with relevant other parties, such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and Highways, in relation to the details submitted for their expert advice.
What conditions do Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire and David Wilson Homes need to comply with?
The council needs to assess a number of issues including highways, drainage and mitigation measures needed to comply with nutrient neutrality requirements. For both sites, the steps required to discharge the conditions relating to outstanding highways matters are being progressed.
Earlier this year, new legalisation required new developments to mitigate the impact of phosphate discharge in to watercourse within defined areas. Both developments must now also provide evidence as to how they will comply with new nutrient neutrality requirements. At the time planning permission was granted, neither developer was required to mitigate for phosphate discharge, however a written Ministerial Statement in June 2022 confirmed that developments such as Shaw Valley would now have to comply.
Why do these sites need to mitigate for nutrient neutrality if they already have planning permission?
Any development that had achieved all their planning obligations (meaning no additional information needed to be submitted to the council) at the time nutrient neutrality requirements were implemented was exempt from providing mitigation. However, the Shaw Valley development is required to provide mitigation because the planning permission is still subject to the discharge of conditions. A written Ministerial Statement in June 2022 confirmed this.
Natural England has produced a guide containing further information on nutrient neutrality.
Has the council stopped Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire and David Wilson Homes from selling and building homes at Shaw Valley?
The council has not taken any enforcement action against either site and construction continues. This would be an option but the council would rather work with the developers to get outstanding matters concluded.
In respect of the sale of houses on the two parts of the site, the council has requested that both developers halt sales. Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire has agreed to halt the sale of houses on the site voluntarily while issues are resolved; David Wilson Homes has not made the same commitment. It is at the developer's discretion to decide how best to proceed with sales and occupations at this time.
Both developers continue to work positively with the council to resolve matters and the Local Planning Authority has elected to hold off taking any formal enforcement action.
Does the council's request to halt sales mean that the houses are unsafe?
No, the council has no concerns with the quality and build of individual houses. Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire and David Wilson Homes are both highly respected housing developers.
Why isn't the council collecting waste from some households at Shaw Valley?
The council is reviewing documentation about the standards of the roads on the development so they can be adopted as public highway. Currently, the company hired by the council to collect waste is not permitted to enter the site, as the roads are yet to be adopted. The developers have made their own arrangements for affected residents at this time.
The council's waste collection service will begin as soon as the relevant conditions are discharged in relation to the road network.
When will the roads be adopted by the council?
The roads on the Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire part of the site cannot be adopted at this time due to ownership matters on the roundabout connected with the Vodafone site. However, information has been submitted by Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire in order to demonstrate that the roads on the site are constructed to a suitable standard to allow the council's appointed waste contractor to access the site.
The roads on the David Wilson Homes part of the site can be adopted, and information has been submitted by David Wilson Homes to demonstrate that these roads are being constructed to an adoptable standard. The council will adopt the roads as public highway on the David Wilson Homes part of the site once they have been fully constructed and the information demonstrates that they are of an adoptable standard.
When will all of this be resolved?
The council, Taylor Wimpey and David Wilson Homes are working together closely to resolve outstanding issues. Officers continue to prioritise consideration of the information provided, but are unable to confirm a timetable for final approval of information, owing to nutrient neutrality requirements.
The council is hoping for a pragmatic solution from Natural England, as this is an issue affecting other developers around the country who have either ceased sales or are stopping occupation. However, there is no current quick solution on this matter and no guarantee that full mitigation will not be required at the current time. No details have yet been received from either Taylor Wimpey or David Wilson Homes as to what level of mitigation is needed or can be achieved.
How are you keeping current and prospective residents informed?
We are updating the council website with new information as it becomes available.
An informal community representative group has met in relation to the Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire part of the site, which brought together the council, Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire and prospective resident representatives.
Both developers are also issuing regular updates to current and prospective residents.
Should you have further questions or would like to be kept up to date with updates on Shaw Valley, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.