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Appeal for Theale car showroom plans

Scheme had been rejected despite council officers' recommendation for approval

A developer who sought permission to convert a Theale car showroom into a major new development has appealed West Berkshire Council's decision to reject the scheme.

The proposals had been submitted by Woolf Bond Planning on behalf of Red Line Land Theale Limited.

The developer had requested permission to demolish a car showroom in Church Street, owned by Theale Motor Company.

This was to be replaced by retail and residential units.

In June 2020, the plans went before the Eastern Area Planning Committee, which voted to reject the scheme, despite council officers having recommended it for approval.

Justifying their decision, planners said that the proposals offered insufficient amenity space for Theale residents.

The residential units were said to have flouted local space standards.

Moreover, concerns were raised that traffic from the site would clog nearby Station Road, which was a major matter of contention for some residents, who warned of the development's impact on the surrounding conservation area.

In the appeal – submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in November last year – Thomas Rumble, a town planning associate at Woolf Bond, set out to refute the committee's case against the conversion.

He said: "The planning officer identified the scheme to be compliant with each development plan policy and consequently recommended approval.

"I agree with this conclusion and am of the judgment that the planning committee's decision to refuse planning permission was unjustified and failed to consider the scheme within the context of the overall development plan including reference to its benefits.

"The scheme's accessible and sustainable location and its proximity to shops and services and public transport links will allow it to contribute to sustainable transport whilst bringing about potential reductions in emissions associated with traffic and transport that will be enhanced by the provision of secure and covered bicycle parking facilities."

Mr Rumble contests the councillors' assessments regarding the size of the development. He said some of the new buildings would have complied with local standards, while others could easily have been made to comply.

The Planning Inspectorate has yet to rule on the appeal.

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