THE Hungerford marina project will cover land roughly equivalent to six football pitches, new plans have revealed.
A planning application seeks permission to extend the footprint of the previously approved, 120-berth marina basin, and to include three residential flats in the development.
Another huge site has been set aside opposite to accommodate excavated soil.
A design and access statement by site owner Lakeland Leisure Estates Ltd, claims that the “permitted development and in particular, the size of the marina basin for the 120 permitted berths, is not functionally large enough”.
It estimates that to “build and operate a marina for 120 berths in a safe and feasible manner”, the basin needs to be extended by around 4,500m sq.
That would bring the main development site to around 4.5 hectares.
The application continues: “The moorings will be supported by an amenities building housing a reception area, toilets, showers, laundry facilities, café/restaurant and three residential flats.”
A marina project was first awarded planning permission in 2004 following a 12-year battle with campaigners opposed to such a development.
Then, the proposals included plans for a heritage museum and business units.
The current application dispenses with those but represents a greater footprint, plus new homes.
During discussions, West Berkshire Council planners insisted that Lakeland Leisure provided impact assessments.
An ecological survey detected the presence of otters and bats in the area and recommended measures to mitigate the development’s effects on them, and on any pollution to the waterway.
The required environmental impact assessment acknowledges that the adjacent Freeman’s Marsh represents a “great diversity of habitats including willow carr, scrub, woodland and open water which supports rich plant and animal communities... many of the plants found here are restricted to wet meadows and are becoming increasingly scarce in southern Britain with the loss of this type of habitat.
“Freeman’s Marsh is an important site for breeding, wintering and passage birds.”
In addition, the report adds, nearby Chilton Foliat Meadows comprises a “complex of wet habitats unusual in Wiltshire... the site supports a diverse flora and a variety of birds, the meadows being one of the most important areas in the county for breeding waders”.
In addition, the assessment highlights potential changes in water quality from increased canal usage and an increase in bank erosion from increased boat traffic.
The report concludes that mitigation measures will be necessary to prevent damage to the surrounding flora and fauna.
The developer has carried out consultations with Natural England, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Hungerford Town Council, the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) group, the Town and Manor of Hungerford and the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce.
Some residents have expressed fears that the flats associated with the project could set a precedent for future residential development at or near the site.
Supporters of the development hope that it could boost the town’s falling footfall.
The plans can be viewed in the entirety, and commented upon, by visiting West Berkshire Council website’s planning section and using the reference 15/02312/ COMIND