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New ideas for Newbury's BT Tower facelift

Calls continue to improve appearance of six-storey "eyesore"

Chris Ord


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New ideas for Newbury's BT Tower facelift

A TOWN councillor has vowed to continue her quest to see Newbury’s BT Telephone Exchange transformed into a green oasis, despite the telecoms giant currently rejecting the idea.

Martha Vickers (Lib Dem, Northcroft) recently put forward the proposal to clad the building’s concrete façade in a “living wall” with the hope of improving the town’s aesthetic appearance, while tackling pollution at the busy Sainsbury’s roundabout.

However, BT has since said the living wall option would not be its ‘preferred choice’, claiming the decoration could “accelerate any deterioration” of the building.

Despite the setback, Mrs Vickers said that she will continue to pursue all avenues to see the appearance of the Bear Lane building improved, while putting pressure on BT to do more than the “bare minimum” as regards to maintenance.

Meanwhile, the suggestion of the green wall has stirred much debate in Newbury, with people proposing plans to cover the walls in artwork or painting the six-storey eyesore.

The building cannot currently be demolished as it houses a vast amount of telecommunications cabling and technology, which would currently prove too costly to relocate.

Local architect Ian Blake, of Morse Webb architects in Newbury, has put his radical proposals forward.

He said: “As a resident of the town and having spent the past 17 practicing as an architect here, I have often stared up and wondered what the potential re-imagining of the building might produce.

“Currently the building is a utilitarian brute with its content and function under-utilising a prime town centre location.”

Mr Blake suggests adding a glass box to the roof, which he says could contain anything from an observation garden to a restaurant or nightclub, while cloaking the building itself in “something sparkly to hide the concrete and show itself off”.

A zip wire and climbing wall could also be included, providing attractions to the area.

He said: “Shopping and working patterns are changing and towns like Newbury are having to reinvent themselves in order to attract footfall into their high streets.

"This suggestion could be one of several potential opportunities for Newbury to do this and give some love to an unloved building at the same time. Commercially it would need to be viable, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be – get the right mix of operators and developers together and the scheme could 'fly'." 

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Article comments

  • MattL

    09/11/2017 - 09:09

    Morse Webb must not have much work on at the moment, for good reason, look at the state of that design idea. Where is the zip wire going? Thatcham. Grow up Ian, do some real work.


  • grumpy

    08/11/2017 - 17:05

    for goodness sake, its a functional 1960's ish building, it serves a purpose. The police station is not all that pleasing on the eye, but hey ho


  • Browntrout

    08/11/2017 - 16:04

    Someone should ask the Greenham and Crookham council for their advice - They have great ideas and are able to manage a project on a very tight budget and timescale (NOT). Seriously though I don't see anyone spending any money on it unless they are legally obliged to - it will continue to sit there showing off it's very industrial design for years to come. Maybe someone can lobby Lego instead for a makeover.


  • paulGT11

    08/11/2017 - 13:01

    BT do not want to spend ANY money on the building so none of these schemes will work. They are too busy paying shareholders vast sums of money in dividends. What SHOULD be happening is for BT build a smaller, purpose built building somewhere and move all the communications equipment to the new premises over a period of time. The same could be done with the Sorting office as the Main Post office is no longer on site and the whole area could be re-generated. Won't happen though!!


    • Bombey

      08/11/2017 - 15:03

      The Post Office & Royal Mail are two separate businesses...


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