Thu, 02 Jul 2015
WEST Berkshire Council is expected to press ahead with purchasing land for a new access road on the A339 tonight (Thursday).
Councillors are to vote on whether compulsory purchase powers should be used to buy land for the new two-way junction which in turn will lead to the redevelopment of the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE).
The road will link the A339 to Faraday Road via Fleming Road and, if approved, would involve demolishing unit 7 and part of unit 6 in Fleming Road.
A stretch of Victoria Park is also being sought by the council.
The council says that providing the new access will lead to the regeneration of the estate, which it deems will deliver economic growth and improve the area.
Although it owns the freehold to the land required, it is leased to Faraday Development Limited (FDL) and Newbury Town Council.
It says numerous attempts to acquire the long leasehold interest from FDL have been unsuccessful and adds that the project is facing the crunch as a £1.9m grant from the Local Enterprise Partnership is time limited and work must commence in the next 12 months.
A report into the decision said: “Given the lack of agreement with FDL and Newbury Town Council, officers recommend that the council approve the use of compulsory purchase powers to safeguard against losing the funding and ensuring this critical infrastructure scheme proceeds.”
The A339 link road is part of a wider scheme to regenerate the London Road estate.
In 2014, West Berkshire Council announced St Modwen as its chosen developer for the scheme, which is set to bring 300 homes, more employment space and an 80-bed hotel.
In May this year the council was accused of “acting unlawfully” by “withholding important information from the public” by FDL director Duncan Crook after the council posted that the decision would be made behind closed doors.
The council was forced to withdraw the item from the agenda when solicitors representing FDL argued that it had not given five clear days’ notice for people to inspect the paperwork.
The council responded by saying that “the item was originally erroneously issued as a confidential report” but this was later corrected.
Mr Crook also disputed the council’s claims over the failed negotiations, saying the council had only made one offer, which was turned down.
He added that FDL had now appointed a valuation expert to work with the council on a settlement figure for the land.
Council leader Gordon Lundie (Con, Lambourn Valley) told the NWN at the time that the council had decided to consider using its compulsory purchase powers because Mr Crook “would not sell the land to us”.
The council says the land identified for compulsory acquisition is required to deliver a traffic signal-controlled junction approximately 230 metres south of the Robin Hood junction, which will connect into Fleming Road and in turn to Faraday Road.
As part of the new junction, a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing will be constructed across the new Fleming Road access and a new staggered pedestrian and cycle crossing will be constructed on the A339.