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Latest plans for 'eyesore' building get green light

Steve Ambrose

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Steve Ambrose

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01635 886648

Latest plans for 'eyesore' building get green light

A DECADE after the idea was first mooted, it looks like Newbury’s “eyesore” Sterling Cables site could finally be redeveloped, as district council planners back the latest plans.The development has been on the cards for almost 10 years, applications,...

A DECADE after the idea was first mooted, it looks like Newbury’s “eyesore” Sterling Cables site could finally be redeveloped, as district council planners back the latest plans.

The development has been on the cards for almost 10 years, applications, which never found approval from West Berkshire Council, including a 12-storey tower block, because of its height, lack of link road and of affordable housing.

Although the provision of affordable housing is still absent from the current proposals, planning officers are recommending that the scheme be approved by the western area planning committee when it meets on Wednesday, as the decontamination of the site – which the Environment Agency labelled as the second most contaminated in Berkshire – is being underwritten byf the developer, Amirantes Ltd.

The firm is also providing funding towards the long-anticipated link road, which will run from Sainsbury’s to the Hambridge Road junction, and bring traffic relief to Mill Lane and Kings Road.

If approved, 39 one-bedroom flats, 104 two-bedroom, 18 three-bedroom and six four-bedroom flats will be built in blocks between three and eight storeys, the tallest of which will be 9m lower than the existing tower.

The plans are identical to those put forward last year, but were resubmitted after inconsistencies over site ownership made the application invalid.

A report compiled by planning officers, which has been given to planning committee members, reads: “Officers now consider that the present application produces a viable option, which is capable of physically proceeding.

“It is recognised that the present site is dilapidated and does not provide a high density of employment, although it is known that the range of services provided on site are highly valued locally.

“The application will dramatically impact the skyline of this part of Newbury, and will have, to a degree, a detrimental impact on the living conditions of the residents in the immediate locality by increased overlooking, and overshadowing.

“There may also be some increased noise pollution due to the new road, plus the rise in traffic from occupants.

“On the other hand, the committee will need to weigh up the positive factors... the decontamination of a very heavily polluted site, the provision of the link road [and] provision of 167 dwellings, on a brown field site in a sustainable location, which will assist the council in meeting its housing needs.”

If approved, Amirantes must pay £685,000 in section 106 contributions to support local facilities and infrastructure by March 31 and a clause has been put forward to enable the council to review whether more Section 106 contributions or affordable housing should be supplied once the final cost of decontamination is confirmed.

The plans went before Newbury Town Council on Monday night.

Elizabeth O’Keefe (Lib Dem, Northcroft) said: “I’m disappointed at there being no affordable housing but understand why that is.

“I would hope that if there were to be any changes in that cost [of decontamination] that could allow some affordable housing.

“We have to weigh in the advantages to Newbury as a whole in terms on the decontamination of the site, the benefits of the road and getting rid of the eyesore of the town.”

The plans will go before West Berkshire Council’s planning committee at a public meeting next Wednesday at its Market Street offices, at 6.30pm.

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