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THE future of Sandhurst High Street hangs in the balance as residents gear up for a fresh battle against housing developers at a public inquiry.

Townsfolk have fought long and hard to save the street from developers Bancroft Developments Ltd, which has twice attempted to get permission to build up to 35 homes along the High Street.

On both occasions Bracknell Forest Borough Council refused planning permission, but now developers are hoping to turn the tables, after appealing against both decisions.

The first application for 32 homes was refused after 69 residents wrote strong letters of protest, fearing the development could tip Sandhurst's infrastructure over the edge. The surprise second application for 35 homes, on the same site, was refused on the same grounds.

Now angry residents and councillors will gather again at a public inquiry on Tuesday, May 14, in a bid to convince the inspector why the development should not go ahead.

Concerned resident Martin Horncastle said: "There has been a lot of disquiet about the development and residents have made a lot of their views known by letter — some have written directly to the inspector.

"The main thrust has been concerning the highways and safety issues — this development would be building an accident blackspot.

"Residents will be attending the inquiry and some have asked for a site visit to be made to look at how dangerous the road is.

"The inspector needs to know the views of residents against this - if there was an accident it would not just involve the car but also pedestrians."

Cllr Dale Birch, vice-chairman of Bracknell Forest Borough Council's planning committee, said he was "proud of" and "impressed by" residents who had fought against the previous applications and urged them to continue their attack at the inquiry.

He said: "The local residents have been a great help in maintaining the right pressure on developers.

"I know they have been very diligent in replying to the inspector's request for evidence and I hope as many as possible will turn up to the inquiry and declare their interest by speaking.

"The evidence of local people is always taken into account and treated with huge respect.

"I shall be looking forward to hearing them."

He added: "The issues that prevail on that site are critical to all of Sandhurst.

"High-density housing on certain areas does not work and you have to be mindful of its impact.

"All the residents have to do is just be themselves. I think that will be far more beneficial to them winning this case than anything else."

The public inquiry, expected to last three days, will be held at the Council Chamber, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell, starting at 10am.


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