Tue, 25 Sept 2018
UP TO 48 affordable homes could be included as part of a major development on part of the London Road Industrial Estate, which looks set to get under way next spring.
West Berkshire planning committee members last week approved a number of conditions relating to the comprehensive redevelopment of the site – dubbed ‘Faraday Plaza’ – for which planning permission has already been granted.
The development will provide offices, retail, financial and professional services, as well as a hotel, restaurant, hot food takeaways and a motor dealership.
A total of 160 flats are included in the application, 48 of which are affordable.
A legal obligation, formerly known as a section 106 agreement, between the developer for the site, Faraday Development Limited (FDL), and the council, was among the main conditions councillors were advised to approve.
A section 106 agreement is a legal arrangement between a local authority and a developer whereby the latter offers a financial contribution towards the costs of community and social infrastructure when planning permission is approved.
Members were warned that if permission was granted without the section 106 obligation, the development could go ahead without the need to designate affordable housing.
Works for the development are now expected to be undertaken on or before February 1, 2019.
Councillors also approved a condition to allow phasing of the development, which they were advised was a “standard construction approach” for a development of such magnitude.
Planning agent Pro Vision representative Steven Smallman briefed members on the importance of permitting phasing, which he said would improve the overall funding and viability of the scheme with a more attractive cash flow and reduced accumulated debt, making it more attractive to investors.
Mr Smallman added that breaking the scheme down into “bitesize, manageable phases” meant it would be delivered earlier than expected.
Councillor Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) urged members to approve the conditions in the application, which she claimed had not changed since 2009, when the Faraday Plaza saga started.
The council gave outline permission to FDL to carry out the £50m scheme.
This was to provide retail and housing space – 30 per cent of which would be affordable – an 80-bedroom hotel and restaurant and an additional exit and entrance road on to the A339, which has now been built.
But in 2012, that planning permission lapsed and an identical planning application was submitted.
However, the council refused that application and in 2014 signed an agreement with another developer, St Modwen, for a separate scheme.
Speaking at last week’s meeting, Mrs Cole said: “I think it’s eminently sensible that we approve these change of conditions and I think it’s about time, for at least this part of the Faraday Road development.
“We have got to make absolutely certain that we approve the section 106 agreement so we get the affordable housing and that, to me, is the important thing.”