Wed, 26 Oct 2016
RESIDENTS can now have their say on plans that, if approved, would treble the size of Aldermaston village.
Praxis Real Estate Management wants to convert the 19th-century Aldermaston Manor into 23 apartments.
Additional homes are proposed through a change of use for Bridge Lodge and converting the stable block into two properties, while extending three other lodges.
The manor, used as a hotel until it entered administration in 2012, and its listed parkland have been placed at risk by English Heritage.
Praxis paid £4.7m for the 140-acre estate in 2014 and said it had tried marketing the manor house for a range of uses, including a house, offices, a private school or hospital and even a religious retreat.
It now wants to restore the house and grounds to their former glory at a cost that some villagers feel is too high.
The developer wants to build 227 homes within the grounds in order to cover the cost of the refurbishment.
Praxis wants to demolish Blue Circle’s distinctive office block, Portland House, and Oxford House, which lie in the grounds.
Praxis, on behalf of site owner Dove Crag, submitted the proposals in August, and these have now been validated by West Berkshire Council. Residents have already lodged objections to the plans.
Natalie Bartlett said, while converting the manor house was not a bad idea, the hundreds of homes would damage the beautiful village.
“Our village simply can’t withstand the amount of extra traffic this would bring and the local village school would suffer considerably,” she said.
“Unfortunately it just feels like a multi-million pound company from London have just purchased the manor house and surrounding area and plan to bulldoze through our village to maximise their profits, without any consideration to the village and its existing residents.”
Michele Fraser added that the idea was preposterous and that Aldermaston lacked the infrastructure to cope with the development.
Ms Fraser said that she did not oppose the renovation of the manor house and lodges.
However, she questioned why Portland House could not be converted into housing.
“This development company is very greedy trying to acquire 227 new houses on its land, when they purchased the whole site for just over £4m.” she said.
Praxis previously told the NWN that 227 homes was the minimum amount needed to fund the restoration and that no alternative was viable.
It added that the development would provide much-needed housing in the district.
Aldermaston Parish Council will finalise its response to the 20 individual applications at its meeting on Tuesday, November 8.
Residents can also attend a public meeting on Thursday, November 24, in the parish hall, where the parish council hopes to have representatives from Praxis, West Berkshire Council and the Atomic Weapons Establishment present.
The meeting will be held before the parish council submits its view on the application at its December meeting.
The full planning application can be viewed by entering 16/02286/FULEXT. Applications for the lodge conversions and stable block can also be viewed.