PREPARATORY work on a long-awaited and much-needed link road in Newbury is expected to begin this autumn.
The road, which will be constructed as part of the Sterling Industrial Estate redevelopment, will link Hector’s Way and Kings Road which, it is hoped, will reduce traffic levels along Kings Road and Mill Lane.
An application to regenerate the site was approved in March last year. However developer Amirantes is yet to begin the work.
At a recent meeting of West Berkshire Council, executive portfolio holder for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford, revealed that decontamination work of the site is expected to begin in November, which, when complete will allow work on the redevelopment to start.
Newbury town councillor Elizabeth O’Keeffe had raised the question as to when work was expected to begin, following concerns over traffic congestion in the area.
Mrs O’Keeffe also pointed out that the council had received time-limited funding from Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to build the road, which must be used within the next 18 months.
Ms Clifford replied: “We are doing everything in our power to see this road built.
“The council is aware of the time limit.
“When planning permission was granted in March 2015, permission was limited to two years instead of three because we wanted to do what we could.
“We are working very closely with the developer and continue to do so.
“We expect decontamination to begin on site in November.”
Following the meeting, Mrs O’Keeffe said: “I’m not confident that work will begin.
“They know there’s 18 months left on the funding but they don’t really know how long the decontamination will take until they start, it could be worse or better than they think.
“It’s important to get it in sooner rather than later to relieve all that congestion in that area.
“I’m also concerned about the amount of standing traffic, you have to consider the pollution that causes – sometimes it’s backed right up from Sandeleford to the Robin Hood roundabout.”
Amirantes intends to build 167 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom flats in place of the 250ft Sterling Cables tower.
The new homes will be spread across eight blocks, varying in height between three and eight storeys.
No affordable housing is being provided at the site, and Amirantes’ request not to pay £685,000 in section 106 developer contributions was agreed, due to the cost of decontaminating the site.
However, a clause attached to the approved application allows West Berkshire Council to request section 106 funding if the cost of decontamination is substantially less than the estimated £2m.