Council stands by controversial regeneration scheme
Despite legal challenges, council insists it remains committed to project
WEST Berkshire Council has once again insisted it won’t allow legal challenges to discourage it from its controversial plan to redevelop the London Road Industrial Estate.
At a recent meeting, James Fredrickson (Con, Victoria) said the council would stand by the project, which would provide much-needed affordable homes for Newbury.
The saga started in 2009, when the council gave outline permission to Faraday Developments Limited (FDL) to carry out the £50m ‘Faraday Plaza’ scheme.
This was to provide retail and housing space – 30 per cent of which would be affordable – an 80-bedroom hotel and restaurant and an additional exit and entrance road on to the A339.
But in 2012, that planning permission lapsed and an identical planning application was submitted.
However, the council refused that application and in 2014, signed an agreement with another developer, St Modwen, for a separate scheme.
The St Modwen scheme consists of plans for 300 to 400 new homes, a food store and a range of new office and business accommodation and a new road on to the A339.
FDL appealed the decision to refuse its application and earlier this year a planning inspector ruled that the council was wrong to refuse it.
The inspector also said that council officers had misled councillors into rejecting that application – a claim the council denies.
FDL has also taken the council to the High Court, claiming its development agreement with St Modwen is unlawful.
The judgement is expected in October.
As widely reported by the Newbury Weekly News, the council is also facing a further legal challenge from Newbury Football Club.
The council needs to kick the club out of its Faraday Road ground in order to carry out the London Road redevelopment.
It was originally going to do so in June 2016, but after a public backlash, promised to review the timing of the departure.
The council offered the club a two-year extension which would have allowed them to stay until June 2018 – but the club refused to sign it.
The club insist they have legal rights as tenants that the council is ignoring, but their decision not to sign the lease has prompted the council to seek a court order to evict them.
Despite all of the issues, the council is not budging.
At a meeting of the council’s executive held recently, Mr Fredrickson reiterated the desire to redevelop, saying: “We will often face legal challenges on a project this size.
“But if we are going to develop it, we have to stand by the project and we will continue to do that.”