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Vodafone voices concerns over north Newbury housing

Vodafone voices concerns over north Newbury housing

Steve Ambrose

Reporter:

Steve Ambrose

Email:

steve.ambrose@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886648

PLANS to build hundreds of homes on a green gateway into Newbury, which surrounds Vodafone’s headquarters, may have hit a snag, as the company has objected to the scheme.Developer Commercial Estates Group is seeking to build up to 401 homes on 22.82...

PLANS to build hundreds of homes on a green gateway into Newbury, which surrounds Vodafone’s headquarters, may have hit a snag, as the company has objected to the scheme.

Developer Commercial Estates Group is seeking to build up to 401 homes on 22.82 hectares of land outside the settlement boundary owned by Genevieve Mather, straddling the A339 to the north and west of The Connection, the communication company’s world HQ at Shaw-cum-Donnington.

The plans also include a community centre and land set aside for a primary school, if required by West Berkshire Council.

Primary access to the homes would come from an extra arm on the Vodafone roundabout, on the A339, while an extension to the roundabout within the Vodafone site would serve as access to the eastern part of the site.

Residents have rallied to save the area from developers and formed the Donnington Valley Action Group, submitting more than 200 letters of objection to the scheme.

Among them is a letter submitted on behalf of Vodafone, saying that it is concerned over the development’s impact on local roads.

Vodafone said its headquarters is visited by more than 4,000 people on a typical working day.

It is therefore eager to ensure that new development does not cause a negative impact as it could have a significant effect upon the business.

Pointing to transport figures, Vodafone said: “It is clear that a number of junctions in Newbury have already reached breaking point.”

In 2013, the Robin Hood roundabout and Bear Lane junction were operating almost to capacity and queues exceeding 100 vehicles and 40 vehicles in length respectively are predicted by 2021.

Vodafone said that any development should not occur until improvements to the Robin Hood and Bear Lane roundabouts have been completed, to avoid making the existing situation worse, to the detriment of not only its HQ but Newbury itself.

It added that traffic forecasts showed that both junctions would just be able to operate within capacity once improvements to these roundabouts was completed.

Irrespective of the traffic flow, the company was concerned that the development would “negatively impact on the amenity of those visting The Connection” and that “increased traffic and resultant delays will detract from the experience of both employees and clients”.

And it isn’t just traffic that Vodafone is concerned about as its headquarters underwent multi-million pound repairs following flash flooding in 2007.

Vodafone is also concerned about flood alleviation works submitted by the developer, because if water storage was affected it would reduce the protection to itself and Trinity School.

It also says that as no study into the impact on the sewer network has been submitted, Vodafone cannot support a development that could have such a negative impact.

For these reasons, Vodafone has asked for the application to be refused unless it is satisfied that any adverse impacts can be mitigated through planning conditions or a legal agreement.

Development manager at CEG, Matthew Tunley, said: “There has always been an intention to develop the land around Vodafone as this is a sustainable location for housing growth, being close to Newbury town centre and its facilities as well as a significant employment opportunities.

“The site offers a strong alternative to allocating homes to smaller, less sustainable and more sensitive village locations in West Berkshire.

“We are working with Vodafone and mitigation measures are being agreed which will provide comprehensive solutions for issues such as drainage and transport.”

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