Wed, 31 Aug 2016
PLANS for the future of the historic Aldermaston Court have finally been submitted.
Praxis Real Estate Management, on behalf of site owner Dove Crag, wants to convert the 19th- century manor house into 23 apartments.
Further homes will come through restoring five lodges and converting the stable block and there will be 227 homes on the former cricket pitch.
The manor and its listed parkland are currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.
The building was used as hotel until it entered administration in 2012 and has lain abandoned since.
Praxis, which purchased the manor and 140-acre estate for £4.7m in 2014, said that uses for the manor house, such as an education facility, a care home or another hotel, were unviable and would leave the building at risk of further deterioration.
It said that its proposals would repair a number of historic assets, while removing the parkland from the register.
However, the proposed development has not found favour with all residents as it would swell the size of the village by around 300 per cent.
Aldermaston Parish Council chairman Dave Shirt said there were mixed feelings.
He said: “We don’t object in principle ... and we recognise the need to refurbish the manor house. Whether 227 homes is a price too high to pay is a question we will have to determine.”
Another problem is the neighbouring AWE site. Aldermaston lies within an emergency planning zone, where people are required to shelter from radiation during an emergency.
It also wants to demolish Blue Circle’s distinctive office block, Portland House, and Oxford House, which lie in the grounds.
The developer believes that both of the modern office blocks have a significant harmful effect on the historic grounds.
Praxis managing director Steve Faber said: “The 227 homes we are proposing will provide housing that is much needed in West Berkshire and we have worked hard with our team to ensure that the application locks in a requirement to provide high-quality homes with the least impact on the local environment as is possible.
“We have thought carefully about the mix of house types and sizes and aim to create a new community of varying household sizes that will sit comfortably in the locality.”
Praxis said that 227 homes was the minimum number required to fund the restoration and that no alternative was available.
And their location would be in the least sensitive part of the site to ensure the setting of the manor house would not be not affected.
Aldermaston Parish Council is planning to hold a public meeting to discuss the application towards the end of September.
Mr Shirt said he would invite Praxis, AWE, West Berkshire Council and Heritage England to attend and that the parish council would formally adopt a view after the meeting.
West Berkshire Council is validating the application and a decision is expected within 16 weeks.