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Councillors reiterate concerns over scale of proposed Kennet Centre redevelopment

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NEWBURY town councillors have reiterated their opposition to the proposed redevelopment of the Kennet Centre.

Last month, councillors on the planning and highways working group gave a very mixed response to the Lochailort development, which would provide 402 new homes, 5,355 m2 of office space, 2,413 m2 of lettable flexible commercial space and a two-storey car park extension.

The councillors praised its carbon neutral nature and the presence of local independent businesses and restaurants, but opposed the scale of the project, which would stretch 11 storeys high.

The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from Bridge Street (46648375)
The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from Bridge Street (46648375)

In Monday’s working group meeting however, councillors doubled down on their opposition to the size of the scheme, saying it’s “far too high”, and criticised the lack of affordable housing.

Vaughan Miller (Lib Dem, East Fields) said: “The comments we registered back in May were quite lightweight in a way.

“It welcomed potential green development and residential in the town centre and the redevelopment of the Kennet Centre itself.

The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from Market Place (46648378)
The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from Market Place (46648378)

“But we expressed a concern about the height, and I was just wondering if we should express a stronger concern about the development and the height and the fact they’ve not made any changes at all despite several engagements with ourselves and others.”

Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Wash Common) added: “I share councillor Miller’s concerns, it is far too high and should be lower – we should make a stronger objection.

“We also ought to draw attention to the fact there’s no affordable housing, and we also wouldn’t want this application being considered until the town centre masterplan and the conservation appraisal are finished, because they are both in progress at present.”

Of the 174 public comments currently on the planning application, 137 are against the scheme and 37 are in favour – two of which come from Lochailort managing director Hugo Haig and Kennet Shopping centre operations manager Richard Farley.

The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from the Kennet & Avon Canal (46648383)
The proposed Eagle Quarter viewed from the Kennet & Avon Canal (46648383)

In a 500-word comment, Mr Haig gave a list of reasons for supporting the scheme, including “new bespoke commercial units that are targeted to local, independent and artisan businesses, new streets that will create a new pedestrianised link between the railway station and the town centre and bus station, and the removal of an outdated and underused shopping centre in favour of a comprehensive regeneration scheme.”

To view the plans and the comments in full, head to the West Berkshire Council planning portal and enter the reference 21/00379/FULMAJ.

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