Former bookshop plans approved
Creative Planning on behalf of Y Developments Ltd had applied to turn 58 Broadway, into three flats but retain the shop on the ground floor - with a smaller shop unit.
It has also applied to demolish the building at the back of the shop and erect four new terraced houses and two flats on land to the rear – nine dwellings in total.
The ground floor shop was formerly The Family Bookshop, which closed down more than a month ago after 15-and-a-half-years in business - partly because trading was becoming increasingly difficult and partly because of the planning application.
The site as it stands comprises a three storey building housing small office units and a bookshop, and to the rear there is a vacant site from the demolition of a fire-damaged garage workshop.
Thatcham Town Council and Waitrose, which also has a unit in the town centre, all initially raised concerns about the application.
Concerns were raised that occupants in the residential buildings would be disturbed by busy retail operations by Waitrose and by the general commercial nature of the town centre.
The store strongly recommended that if West Berkshire Council were to approve the plans that a condition was made that the flats were sound-proofed to protect the residents.
However, Thatcham town councillor and deputy mayor, Gary Johnson (Thatcham West, Lib Dem), has this week said that he would prefer the unit to be re-developed and potentially used, rather than sitting empty.
He said: "Any form of improvement has got to be pleasing - my only concern was the loss of the bookshop as that was a centre piece of town - the number of people who used to frequent it was high.
"I would like to see the shop used rather than being sat there empty and there is a good possibility for it to be used as a shop again.
"I don't think the development is going to be overpowering - I think its going to be an enhancement."
Of the current town centre shopping situation, he said that things were looking up.
He added: "The town is improving at the moment.
"We have got building work going on there which, in previous years, have been derelict.
"There is nothing worse then coming into the town centre and seeing, in our case, burnt out buildings.
"Walking around, I can see it's thriving, people are taking pride in their shops and the community spirit has begun to thrive again.
"It's a town but it still has a village feel - we want it to be vibrant as it's a place people want to live."