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End to 10 year battle as Sterling site goes through

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Blocks between three and eight storeys will now be built, to create 167 flats in the town centre site

It has taken a decade, but plans to redevelop the derelict eyesore site of Sterling Cables finally gained approval last week.

It means that Amirantes can now build 167 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom flats will be built in place of the 250ft tower.

The new homes will be spread across eight blocks varying in height between three and eight storeys.

The development will also bring the long-awaited link road, connecting Hector's Way and Kings Road, and the urgent decontamination of the site - which planning officers said was thought to be the second most contaminated in the Thames Valley.

Improvements will also be made to Boundary Road bridge so that it can accommodate two-way traffic, with pedestrian footpaths installed.

As a result, no affordable housing is being provided at the site, and Amirantes' request not to pay £685,000 in section 106 developer contributions was agreed. Broken down, this would equate to £104,982 towards public open space, £97,557 for adult social care, £390,000 for education, £23,600 to Thames Valley Police, £34,306 towards libraries and £8,517 towards waste services.

Ward member David Allen (Lib Dem, Victoria) said: "I'm disappointed we are not going to see the contributions, but we have got to balance that...we are getting a unique opportunity to develop and decontaminate the site."

The development is expected to take 18-months to complete however, as a precaution, members voted to reduce the amount of time the developer would have to begin construction from the standard three years to two, to ensure that funding for the link road was not lost.

Speaking in support of the application was Brian Withers, representing Sterling Garage, which had previously been based at the site, said: "The tower has become dangerous and occupants have had written warning that any cars parked within the vacinity of the tower will not be covered by insurance.

"Sterling Garage has seen it's customer base significantly reduce and a considerable amount of the key employers have already gone.

"The units under the tower are empty due to safety."

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the scheme.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Newbury Weekly News next week.

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