Thu, 18 Jan 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has provided assurances that the funding it received to redevelop the Sterling Cables site will not be lost.
The scheme was approved by West Berkshire Council in April 2015 and once completed will comprise eight apartment blocks, varying in height between three and eight storeys.
The demolition squads made short work of the 250ft “iconic eyesore” in Kings Road, Newbury, in May, along with other buildings on the estate.
However, in October, developer Amirantes admitted that work to build 167 flats and a new link road at the site was still “some way off”.
Work on the new apartment blocks and road linking Hectors Way and Kings Road cannot begin until the land at the former industrial site has undergone full decontamination.
At a recent West Berkshire Council meeting, the leader of the opposing Liberal Democrat group, Alan Macro (Theale) asked if funding from the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) might be lost.
However, portfolio holder for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said: “No is the answer. The Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership is fully aware of the decontamination issues and has worked closely with us throughout. We’re continuing to work with them and the developer to ensure this development goes ahead as soon as possible.”
Mr Macro responded by asking: “Originally we had been told that the money was available for two years and needed to be used within two years, which is why I proposed that the planning permission would only be granted for two years.
“How much time do we actually have then?”
Mrs Clifford replied: “They have been sympathetic when talking to them and we are confident we will be able to secure the funding.
“We’re very open with the LEP and work well with them.”
Benjamin Budd, of Amirantes, told the Newbury Weekly News in October: “Since the planning permission was granted, work has continued apace on the Sterling Industrial Estate site, with the demolition of all of the existing buildings bar one now being completed.
“This is a large project and as such we are taking it stage by stage.
“Our next major step will be the decontamination of the site, which we are now considering.
“This may take some time as it was not possible to ascertain a technical solution to decontaminate the site until demolition had been completed, and this solution must be agreed with the Environment Agency, but we hope that at some point next year we would be able to undertake this work.”
Decontamination of the land was seen as a key benefit of the development, with council officers suggesting the site was the second most contaminated in the Thames Valley.
The site is contaminated with various chemicals, including hydrocarbons and ammonium from its use as the old gasworks.
The new road will link Hectors Way, leading to Sainsbury’s, and Kings Road, while the widening of the Boundary Road bridge to two lanes will also be included in the project.
The delivery of the new link road, which it is hoped will reduce traffic on Kings Road and Mill Lane, is seen as a key objective of West Berkshire Council.
Because of the improvements to Newbury’s infrastructure and the decontamination, West Berkshire Council agreed in 2015 that no affordable housing need be provided at the site, while Amirantes’ request not to pay £685,000 in Section 106 developer contributions was also agreed.