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High rise plans for Newbury town centre

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Seven and four-storey blocks unveiled for "Urban Village" project

THE full extent of the 5.5-acre redevelopment in the heart of Newbury has been revealed with new, detailed plans showing apartment blocks as high as seven storeys.

Plans for a proposed high-rise “urban village” between the railway station and Market Street were put on display at a community forum on Thursday at St Nicolas Church.

A 3D model unveiled to a room of around 60 local residents, businesses and councillors showed plans for the scheme, which would include 225 homes, made up of 30 houses, 45 duplexes and 150 flats.

There will also be room for approximately 1,000 sq m of commercial space, which would include a convenience store or café located at the southern portion, next to the railway station.

This area of the redevelopment would also see the site rise as high as seven storeys, with flats next to a proposed five or six-storey car park.

Flats facing Market Street, opposite the Kennet Shopping centre which was recently put up for sale, less than a year after two major retailers pulled out, would also be four storeys high.

Concerns had previously been expressed by bus users that the depot would be relocated to the Wharf area and also from elderly residents of nearby Thomas Merriman Court who said that the proposed construction would exacerbate breathing problems suffered by residents.

It was revealed at the meeting held by developers Grainger and architects JTP that the Quaker’s Friends Meeting House and garden would be retained after a public outcry demanded it be protected.

One resident of Priory Road, David Clow, who was at the meeting, questioned the plans and the concept of ‘Newburyness’ touted by developers.

He said: “Words like urban village and ‘Newburyness’ were much used, but alas the design incorporates buildings at six and even seven storeys.

“This is just not typical of a village or Newbury and totally inappropriate.

“The plan has much to commend it but simply the buildings are just too high.

“There are none of that height in the vicinity – they will dominate the development.

“The plans urgently need to be changed to reduce the height to a maximum of five storeys.”

Development director at Grainger, David Walters, referring to a community planning weekend held in July in which residents gave their views on the project, added: “We have been looking in detail at all the technical aspects of the new master plan, and we were delighted to be able to confirm back to the community last week that we have been able to maintain their overall vision.

“Part of this vision has been about retaining the Newburyness, while future-proofing for new investment in the town in years to come, both in architecture and character.

“We are delighted with where we are so far and hope we can continue to work with the community and make the proposals a reality.”

The developers will submit a detailed planning application for the site to West Berkshire Council “at the end of 2015”.

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