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New plans unveiled for 28 flats at Newbury Magistrates Court site

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Plans to redevelop the site of the former Newbury Magistrates Court building have been dubbed a cross between a fire station and a car park.

The town council has been asked to comment on the plans which could see 28 flats at the Mill Lane site.

"It is an unimaginative box," councillor Gary Norman (Lib Dem, Wash Common) told the developers at a planning and highways committee last night (Wednesday). "You could do better. It looks like a cross between a car park and a fire station."

An artist's impression of the plans to develop the old Newbury Magistrates Court area
An artist's impression of the plans to develop the old Newbury Magistrates Court area

Eight of the 28 one- and two-bed flats are designated as ‘affordable homes’. Two are earmarked for social housing.

Local resident Annie Speller told the meeting that enough was enough with flats being built in the area.

She said: "There have been 368 flats built on Mill Lane in recent years. What we need is another GP surgery here, not more flats."

Newbury Magistrates Court closed in July 2016 and, together with 20 Mill Lane, was demolished in 2020.

The site has been cleared and is enclosed by fencing for security purposes.

Architects are proposing to use some design elements of the 1960s police station in the new build.

The Newbury Society has also lodged an objection to the scheme on the grounds of design, landscaping, and harm to a conservation.

“The Greenham Mill development, nearby, is a good residential model, sensitive to its location on the edge of a conservation area,” said society chairman Prof David Peacock.

“As proposed, the four-storey flat-roofed design would present as a monolithic block from across the river.”

Natural England has also requested an ecological enhancement zone to act as a buffer between the River Kennet and the proposed development.

Newbury police station, which sits in front of the site, uses a light-coloured brick and, and, say architects, creates prominent patterns from the large area of south-facing glazing in distinct horizontal bands.

The building is proposed to be constructed of contrasting light brick with dark grey aluminium windows and panelling breaking up the façade, ‘creating aesthetically pleasing forms in the brickwork’.

The façade is further broken up by the vertical dark grey bricked entrance stairwell that also contains a lift shaft and fire safety ventilation shaft.

Three birch trees are proposed at the north west corner of the site, helping to screen the neighbouring police station, with the remainder of the northern boundary left open to provide views of the canal for residents as well as enabling views towards the building from the canal.

The ecological enhancement zone is proposed to provide a swale planted with a ‘meadow mixture from wetlands’, a wildflower meadow area, rain garden and a seating area for residents.

The cycle store would have a green roof, although other green credentials were called into question, with no attention to renewable energy solutions shown in the plans.

The majority of the committee objected to the plans, which will go before West Berkshire Council planners for a decision.

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