PLANS to build houses on an industrial site in Thatcham have been given the go-ahead, but a number of factors stand in the way.
West Berkshire Council has agreed that plans to demolish the industrial buildings at Crown Yard – north of The Swan pub – and build 33 flats and houses is acceptable.
The proposals, for 24 flats and nine houses, have been submitted by Alder King Planning Consultants on behalf of applicant Page, Moss and Cole.
The site is currently home to a number of businesses including Crown Garages, Medlocks, and Thatcham Tyre and Exhaust Centre.
One employee, who asked not to be named, said: “From a business point of view we are an established business here.
“If we have to move to another site in Thatcham then so be it.
“We’ve not been given the yay or nay about whether they are going to do it.
“We’ve been assured that they will give us a year to get out.
“They have been open with us since the start.
“From a personal point of view, I think it will be pain in the backside.
“I’m more concerned from a Thatcham point of view.
“The traffic already queues up to the A4. I don’t see how this is going to make things better.”
The employee said that one worker had to wait for four trains to pass through the level crossing before he could leave the yard.
Residents objecting to the plans said that traffic on Station Road, combined with the level crossing gates being down, made driving during rush hour a nightmare.
They added that extra cars from the new homes would make leaving the Kennet Heath estate impossible.
Concerns about the impact on Francis Baily Primary, Spurcroft Primary and Kennet School were also raised.
West Berkshire Council has expressed no concerns over traffic flow, and the developer claimed that the amount of journeys at peak times would be reduced.
And as the traffic flows are predicted to drop, the council said this removed any need for mitigation.
Granting conditional approval, West Berkshire Council said there would be “a neutral benefit” if the plans went ahead.
The council added: “In contributing to the economic role, the development itself would aid in providing short-term economic benefits during the construction phase, but there is a neutral benefit as the existing commercial units would be lost.
“However, the numbers, layout, design, height, scale, flood risk, contaminated land and landscaping remain to be fully assessed in further applications.”
The council raised no objections to the proposed access and visibility from the site, which would come from the roundabout on Station Road and Pipers Way.
But the council said that it could be difficult to provide an adoptable road into the site and that the roundabout may need to be reconfigured.
The local authority added that the site was contaminated from gases and other substances and was likely to require work before it could be converted into housing.
This, in turn, would create problems for drainage on the site, something that the council was wary of.
No affordable housing is included in the scheme, contrary to the council’s 30 per cent requirement.
The council’s housing department said: “It is completely unacceptable that a development of this size would fail to provide a balanced housing provision that meets the needs of all residents of the district.”
Environmental matters, such as noise from the railway and dust and noise during construction would also need to be assessed, the council said.