A WEST Berkshire Council-backed scheme to build 232 houses and flats in Market Street, which will see Newbury bus station moved to The Wharf, looks set to be approved next week.
The 5.5-acre site has been earmarked for development since 2006 and forms part of the council’s over-arching planning document for the town – Newbury Vision 2026.
The council said the scheme would create employment and improve the image of the area.
But controversy was sparked when it was revealed that the land, which the council previously owned and valued at £3.9m, was given to developer Grainger at no cost.
And concerns about the local authority’s flagship scheme have come from within the council itself. The plans have gone through two revisions following concerns from the council’s housing, transport and waste and recycling departments, as well as Thames Valley Police.
The amount of affordable housing has been described as unacceptable, with only 12 of the 232 homes (5.6 per cent) being affordable. The council’s own standard is 30 per cent.
A viability assessment to justify the shortfall has been accepted as Grainger said that a higher amount would make the scheme unviable.
The scheme also falls short of the council’s car parking requirement of 228 spaces. However, as the site as viewed as a sustainable location, the council says that figure is unlikely to be required.
A new multi-storey car park is being proposed as part of the development, which will address the shortfall by allowing residents and council staff to park in it.
The council report prepared ahead of Wednesday’s meeting said: “The scheme will provide an impressive gateway into Newbury from the train station, which will help promote and enhance the existing town centre.
“The proposal will also improve the quality of the retail and other services available in the town centre, provide housing, create long-term employment and attract further investment in the town centre.”