PLANS for a six-storey, 232-home development in Newbury town centre have been given the go-ahead.
The 'urban village' will see the face of Newbury town centre’s southern gateway changed forever after councillors approved the plans at a meeting of the western area planning committee last night (Wednesday).
Serious concerns had been raised over the low number of affordable homes included in the project – developer Grainger had proposed just 13 units (5.6 per cent) – however councillors ultimately decided in favour of the development.
Addressing the committee, Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said it was "extremely disappointing" that the number of affordable units didn't meet West Berkshire’s requirement of 30 per cent but pointed to new figures which suggested the number of affordable homes built across the country was 52 per cent lower than the previous year.
She added: “It's really indicative of the issues that all developers are facing in delivering affordable homes.
“We are where we are and we have to be pragmatic."
The 5.5-acre site, just north of Newbury Railway station, has been earmarked for development since 2006, with the council including the regeneration of the area in its over-arching planning document for the town – Newbury Vision 2026.
The development will also see the construction of a new multi-storey car park, providing almost 500 car parking spaces, as well as the relocation of the bus station to The Wharf.
The scheme became the subject of controversy when it was revealed that the land, which the council previously owned and valued at £3.9m, was given to Grainger at no cost.
Proposing the application be approved, Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) said: “If this development goes ahead it will be another bonus for Newbury."
Councillors voted in favour of the plans subject to conditions and completion of a developer contributions agreement.