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Council to be quizzed over plan to redevelop London Road Industrial Estate

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Newbury resident will ask whether businesses will be forced out when regeneration gets underway

WEST Berkshire Council will be quizzed tonight (Thursday) over its controversial plans to redevelop Newbury’s London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) redevelopment – and asked whether it will force businesses to sell up and leave the site, writes Nathan Hyde (Local Democracy Reporter).

At this evening’s meeting, Newbury resident Ian Hall will ask the council’s executive committee about the potential use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) and whether affected business owners will be offered “replacement premises”.

Long-standing plans for the ambitious project in Newbury and a new draft development brief will also be discussed.

Last week, the council announced that plans for the redevelopment had taken a big step forward after consultants at Avison Young completed the draft development brief, which says the site could be redeveloped in one comprehensive project or in phases.

The brief says the council owns the majority of the 25-acre estate and is “in a strong position to help and encourage redevelopment”, but several businesses have signed long-term leases and this could “curtail its ability to deliver new development”.

It also states that the council may need to consider using CPOs, to obtain property without the consent of the leaseholders, but this is a “costly process” and it “should only be used as a last resort”.

According to the brief, one comprehensive development “will require the use of CPOs across the majority of the estate” and a phased development “may require the use of CPOs on some individual parcels” of land.

Up to 544 homes, 6,023 sq m of office space and 6,690 sq m of space for other businesses could be built on the site as part of one comprehensive development.

A phased development could provide up to 280 homes, 3,473 sq m of office space and 5,400 sq m of space for other businesses.

West Berkshire Council sparked a backlash in 2018 when it evicted Newbury Football Club from their ground in Faraday Road to make way for the redevelopment.

The council says it is “looking at options to build a new football facility in the Newbury area” and it will reopen the abandoned Faraday Road ground as “recreational space for community use” in spring 2021, until the regeneration gets underway.

It has been looking to redevelop London Road Industrial Estate for more than 15 years.

The project suffered a major setback in 2018, when the Court of Appeal ruled the council had breached EU law by failing to follow the correct procurement process when it appointed St Modwen as the developer.

But the Conservative-run council refused to give up on the project and commissioned Avison Young to draw up a development brief.

According to the brief, the council is aiming to transform the LRIE into a “vibrant, successful and diverse neighbourhood where people will want to live, work and visit” by 2030.

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