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Developer insists plaza project will go ahead

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Renaissance Habitat are looking to regenerate part of Faraday Road in Newbury

THE developer behind plans for a plush new ‘plaza' in Faraday Road, Newbury, has insisted the project will go ahead, subject to finalizing commercial agreements and the lease with West Berkshire Council.

In January 2009, West Berkshire councillors gave unanimous approval to outline plans for Newbury-based developer Renaissance Habitat to regenerate part of the London Road industrial estate with a high-rise tower, offices, shops, about 160 homes and a 100-bedroom hotel, all creating an estimated 575 jobs.

At the time, Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Victoria) said the plans would be a catalyst to regenerate the rest of the “sad and neglected” industrial estate, which has since been made the subject of a £50,000 feasibility study to identify regeneration opportunities.

However, construction on the plaza, which would also see a three-lane junction opened up on to the southbound A339 to try and alleviate traffic congestion, has not yet started.

Chief executive of Renaissance Habitat, Duncan Crook, said last year the developers were in talks with potential occupiers for the plaza, adding that once discussions had been concluded, a detailed application would be submitted to West Berkshire Council.

This has not yet happened, but an application has recently been submitted to remove the BRE Environmental Assessment Methods (BREEAM) conditions for sustainable homes from the original outline approval, in line with several other applications that have been submitted in recent months.

Since the council was forced to shelve its eco-homes policy last February following a planning inspector's decision to uphold an appeal against it, the council has been powerless to resist applications to remove the conditions requiring new buildings to be constructed to standards of ‘excellence' in terms of sustainability, known as the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 (CSH3).

A flurry of applications have been received from developers aiming to reduce their construction costs in the recession by not having to install such costly features as bat boxes, water flow inhibitors and expensive heating systems to reduce a household's carbon footprint.

Renaissance Habitat, under the applicant name of Faraday Land Assessments Ltd, has now followed suit with the Faraday Plaza application, but Mr Crook said this week that although detailed plans have not yet been submitted, the developers were still keen to progress the project, into which he claimed, his company had committed millions of pounds already.

He said: “The project will proceed subject to finalizing commercial agreements and the lease with the council.”

West Berkshire Council is due to make a decision on the latest plans by May.

To see the location of the proposed development, click on the additional pictures link below.

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