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Greenham Common tower is approved by councillors

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An iconic cold war control tower on Greenham Common will be transformed into a visitor centre and café after councillors overturned officer’s recommendations to refuse it.

At a Western Area Planning meeting held in Newbury last night (Wednesday) councillors voted unanimously to support the application which has been in the pipeline since 2012.

Greenham Parish Council’s flagship project was put in doubt after planning officers sided with a local wildlife trust and recommended it be refused altogether, warning that the ecological impact was not adequately addressed by the applicant.

Concerns were first raised by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust which objected to the proposal, claiming that the redevelopment and the increased footfall it would bring would have an adverse impact on vulnerable species there.

On debating the proposal, however, and after hearing from the support of Greenham parish councillors and the Newbury Society it was decided that the benefit to the town of Newbury was more important than to the local wildlife.

In summing up the decision chairman of the committee Paul Bryant (Con, Speen) said: “When the Americans moved out and it became Greenham Common our view was that the common was going to be for the people of Newbury, and to think that we don’t want to see another 7,000 people or however many there is going to be is rather against what the common is for.

“The primary reason for this in my view is that it is for the people of Newbury primarily and secondly for the protection of nature.”

For the full report from the meeting and all of the reaction pick up a copy of next week’s Newbury Weekly News.

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