Tue, 29 May 2018
HUNGERFORD Town Council has accused district planners of using potential loss of parking as an excuse to dodge their responsibility to the town.
At the centre of the row are proposals for 30 one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats, a coffee shop, parking and landscaping on land near the railway station.
A similar application was rejected last summer by West Berkshire planners, who cited concerns over loss of car parking because the site is currently in use as a car park with 96 spaces.
The project has attracted opposition from Great Western Railway (GWR), whose spokeswoman Nicola Scott has said: “GWR strongly objects to the above application on the basis that it reduces the number of car parking spaces available to rail passengers.
“The site in question is currently occupied by around 90 vehicles each weekday, the loss of which will negatively impact on the town, the railway and wider travel habits across West Berkshire.”
But, as previously reported, planning permission for the car park at the site has expired.
And at the latest meeting of the town council’s environment and planning committee, town mayor Helen Simpson said: “First of all, let’s be clear – the permission ran out in 2016 so it has no licence, temporary or otherwise.
“But no attempt has been made at enforcement.”
Councillor Martin Crane said: “They’re mostly commuters – what do they contribute to the town?”
Committee chairwoman Carolann Farrell agreed, saying: “They don’t add to the footfall at all.
“But we shouldn’t even be discussing parking because permission doesn’t exist.
“The lack of parking is a West Berkshire Council issue. They’ve had years to provide enough.
“They gave this temporary permission and now that’s being used as an excuse.
“The site owner allowed it to be used for parking and is now being penalised.
“And if GWR want the site for parking so badly, they should buy the site – but don’t stop Hungerford from growing.
“This is completely wrong.
“There have been four applications to develop the site since I’ve been chair of planning.
“We need to sort this once and for all. We need affordable housing.”
Mrs Simpson agreed: “I suggest we strongly support this application.
“It’s the gateway to the town and at the moment it’s an eyesore.”
The committee voted to formally register the town council’s “strong support” for the application.
Meanwhile, it can be viewed in full, and commented on, by visiting the planning section of West Berkshire Council’s website and using the reference 18/00837/FULEXT.