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Security concerns threaten Aldermaston Court housing plans

"There are considerable issues of more than local importance," MOD says

200 home plan for Aldermaston Court is 'unsustainable'

HOUSING at Aldermaston Court could jeopardise future Ministry of Defence activity at AWE Aldermaston, the MoD has revealed.

Praxis Holdings plans to build 227 homes within the grounds in order to redevelop the 19th-century manor house.

But the homes, to be built on the former cricket pitch, would lie within a stone’s throw of the nuclear weapons establishment.

AWE Aldermaston is one of two sites manufacturing and maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident.

Accordingly, Aldermaston lies within a detailed emergency planning zone, where members of the public would be required to take shelter to protect themselves from the impact of a radiation emergency.

Responding to the plans, the MoD said it was concerned about housing close to an MoD facility of national importance.

The government department said that the proposals were contrary to West Berkshire’s development plan, which restricts residential development around the facility and could constrain its future utility.

In a letter, the department wrote: “MoD believes that the proposals at Aldermaston Court will have serious implications on the way the MoD conducts its business now and into the future.

“It is not always possible to set out in detail, in public, the nature of the activities undertaken at AWE on behalf of the MoD and it is the MoD’s view that there are considerable issues of more than local importance.”

Because of the national security stakes, the MoD is looking to call in the application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for determination.

The plans face a further set back as the Office for Nuclear Regulation has also raised concerns.

Nuclear safety inspector, Tim Randles, said that the homes, some within 50m and 100m of AWE Aldermaston, could adversely impact the degree of protection provided to the public.

Mr Randles said this was because residents and properties could be affected by a nuclear emergency prior to residents receiving notification of it.

A public meeting about the plans was held in the village on Thursday evening. See next week's Newbury Weekly News for a report. 

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