Sat, 07 Apr 2018
NEWBURY Town Council has objected to plans to build 10 more flats at Newbury Business Park.
A previous application to transform three office blocks into 129 flats was approved last May after West Berkshire Council ruled that no prior planning approval was required.
The development was given the green light under permitted development rights, which does not require a planning application to be submitted.
However, separate proposals had been submitted by Stonegate Land and Property for the development of 10 two-bedroom apartments at Watson House, facing London Road.
The site, contained within the boundaries of the park, currently serves as a parking area for nearby businesses, including Nexus, Lambourn and Derby House.
At a Newbury Town Council planning and highways committee meeting last Monday, maintaining the balance between residential and business use in the town was cited as one of the main reasons for objection.
There were also concerns raised over two mature and attractive Scots pine trees on the eastern boundary to the site, which councillors said would be endangered by construction work.
Stonegate had previously suggested the trees are of little merit and alternatives could be planted to overcome the issue.
But at the recent town council meeting, Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) argued the trees were “highly likely” to be placed in danger.
It was also agreed that the site is unsuitable for residential development as it is not close to schools or shops and business traffic patterns would be unsafe for children.
Councillor John Gardner (Lib Dem, St John’s) said the office space was a wasted opportunity for local business investment while it was vacant.
Mr Gardner said: “It would seem silly to keep this area sterilised indefinitely in the hope that eventually a business-user would come along.
“There is a desperate need for houses and temporary accommodation would help.
“If no business use comes along, it’s a wasted space isn’t it?”
It was ruled that Newbury Business Park is zoned for business development, not housing, and the application would contravene the local council’s policy of encouraging new business development in Newbury.
It was also noted that the space had already been allocated as amenity space for the flats planned.
Summarising, planning and highways committee chairman Anthony Pick (Con, St John’s), highlighted the importance of honouring the town council’s core strategy.
He said: “It is an unsuitable area of residential development because of the lack of the amenities normally available for residents.
“We need to keep the balance between Newbury as an area where we live and Newbury as an area where we work.”