HUNGERFORD Marina is finally set to become a reality this year.
Planners gave the final go-ahead to the project – which will change the face of the town – on December 23.
Lakeland Leisure has won permission for a 120-berth marina with amenities building housing a reception area, toilets, showers, laundry facilities, café restaurant and three residential flats in a 4.5 hectare development site – roughly the size of six football pitches.
The matter did not go before West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee because there was only one representation from the public and also because an even larger marina project was first awarded planning permission in 2004 following a 12-year battle with campaigners opposed to such a development.
Fears over sewage disposal, land contamination and widlife loss were expressed by ecological groups including the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and West Berkshire Council’s own environmental health team.
The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust expressed concerns over low water levels.
A planning officer’s report noted: “In normal circumstances, the provision of a new marina in such a location must demonstrate an undisputed need, in terms of moorings along the canal, to be permitted.
“However, in this instance, by virtue of the planning history... given there is an extant permission in place for a 120-berth marina, the principle is already accepted.”
The report added: “In economic terms the application is clearly to be encouraged as the new marina will assist local spending in the nearby town of Hungerford.
“In social terms the new recreational focus is to be encouraged since this will enhance social interaction and pleasure of the countryside.
“There will undoubtedly be an increased visual impact and urbanisation of this part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and, in addition, some ecological impact to a degree.
“In addition the facility will attract further traffic onto the local road network.
“However given the other benefits arising the application is supported.”