Sat, 26 May 2018
PLANS to demolish the Newbury Weekly News offices in Faraday Road and replace them with 82 flats have been met with no objection from town councillors.
The independent family-owned newspaper, which has been at the heart of the community since 1867, plans to move into another building it owns, currently occupied by Skoda, a stone’s throw from where it is situated now, later this year.
The outline application, for the mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, together with 1,500 sq m of office space, was presented at a recent meeting of Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee.
A total of 105 parking spaces will be provided for the flats and 61 spaces will be allocated to the offices.
Kirstin Gray, from planning consultant Pro Vison, explained that, after taking the difficult decision to close its printing press hall in January, the newspaper no longer needs a site this size
She added that the proposed redevelopment would make efficient use of the site, provide much-needed housing and office space and enhance the gateway to Newbury.
Town council leader Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) expressed concern about pollution and noise and asked how far away the housing would be from the A339.
She responded by saying the flats would be between 12 to 16 metres away from the road and that noise assessments had been conducted which showed that an acceptable level of noise can be achieved.
Mr Edwards then asked how many parking spaces would be allocated for the flats.
Mrs Gray responded by saying that the council’s policy states there should be a minimum of 0.75 parking spaces for a one-bedroom flat, one parking space for a two-bedroom flat and two spaces for a three-bedroom flat.
To which Mr Edwards replied: “Three quarters of a parking space? That’s ridiculous.”
When Mr Pick interjected and said that met district council planning policy, Mr Edwards said: “I don’t care.”
Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft) asked whether there could be an arrangement to allow residents to use the parking spaces allocated for the offices outside of working hours to address those concerns.
Mrs Gray replied: “That is a sensible solution.
“It is not something we have put forward at the moment and not something the council has asked us to do
“I don’t know in reality whether that would work or not, but we’re not closing the door to it.”
Elizabeth O’Keefe (Lib Dem, Victoria) said: “To confirm, 50 flats are market value, 70 per cent, and then 25 are affordable.
“And the affordable is split between social housing and intermediate right to buy?
Mrs Gray confirmed that was the case.
Proposing the council offered no objection, Mrs O’Keefe added: “I think it is a suitable place to live. I agree the policy on parking is an issue, but a number of flats in Parkway were sold without parking and residents are paying £5 a night to park.
“I think we have to accept there is no parking with certain flats.”
She concluded: “I like the look of the plan.”
Of the 10 councillors in attendance, nine voted in favour of no objection. Mr Edwards was the only councillor to abstain.