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Decision on future of Theale's Red Lion pub deferred again

Developer's affordable housing contribution called in to question

Chris Ord

Reporter:

Chris Ord

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COUNCILLORS have once again delayed making a decision on the future of a historic Theale pub after the developer’s affordable housing contribution was called into question.

A decision on whether to grant permission for the Red Lion pub to be turned into flats was deferred for the second time at last week’s meeting of the West Berkshire Council eastern area planning committee.

Last month, councillors decided to defer the decision until a viability report on the pub could be scrutinised, with developer Red Line Land Ltd offering just £50,000 as an affordable homes contribution.

Officers had recommended that planning permission be granted, stating that the pub no longer presented “a viable business opportunity”, despite the sum of £50,000 being less than council policy would normally dictate.

The application is to demolish part of the pub and turn the Grade II-listed building, which has now been registered as an Asset of Community Value, into seven new flats.

However, after examining the viability report Emma Webster (Con, Birch Copse) said the application still left a number of unresolved questions.

Quentin Webb (Con, Bucklebury) said: “Coming back to the planning itself, I personally don’t have any problem with the planning as it is on the table.

“There are other issues but in terms of the planning on the site I’m quite happy with the plans as they are.”

Graham Bridgman (Con, Mortimer) said: “My concern is in relation to the contribution by the developer in view of affordable housing and there are outstanding questions that need to be answered.”

Alan Law (Con, Basildon) said: “I agree. I find the principle of the development in general to be acceptable.

“However, having had the opportunity to look at the viability figures, I think I find the figures to be inadequate.

“I propose that we defer again to allow our officers to review the valuation and to agree a more suitable affordable housing contribution.”

As a result, councillors voted unanimously to defer the decision.

Meanwhile, objectors have submitted a plan to West Berkshire Council which they hope will trigger a further six-month reprieve to give the community a chance to table an offer for the pub as part of the Asset of Community Value legislation.

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