Sat, 09 Jan 2016
THE owner of iconic Cold War bunkers at Greenham Common is seeking to scrap its obligation to improve a road junction and to extend storage at the site to include shipping containers.
In 2005, West Berkshire Council granted permission for site owner Flying A Services to store cars at the historic Ground Launch Cruise Missile Alert and Maintenance Area, or GAMA site, which was once the home of the United States Air Force.
Several conditions were imposed on the applicant including Condition 2 limiting the storage to cars only, and Condition 3 which stipulates the completion of junction improvements at Brackenwood Lane and the A339 to mitigate added HGV movements.
The improvements were never completed and now the firm has applied to do away with this obligation altogether and extend its storage to permit shipping containers and “other materials” as long as they are stored in an open area and are no taller than three metres.
Arguing the case for the variation, Flying A Services said: “The inclusion of shipping containers as well as cars has no materially greater visual impact than the storage of cars alone.
“Shipping containers are less than 3m high which is the maximum permissible height for stored materials under Condition 5 of the subject consent.”
On Condition 3 the applicant added: “The site generates very little HGV movements.
“This can be monitored and controlled to a level whereby the existing junction of Brackenwood Lane and the A339 Basingstoke Road is able to manage the number of movements generated without causing any undue or unacceptable highway safety issues.”
The application has since attracted a number of objectors, including Greenham Parish Council which voted unanimously against the plans at a parish council meeting held last month.
As the motion was passed, Councillor Julian Swift-Hook suggested that the parish council “object in the strongest possible terms” to the application.
Local people have also spoken out, including one Newbury resident, Colin Deady, who said that the variation would have “significant adverse environmental and historical impact”.
In his letter of objection to West Berkshire Council, he argued that the site is “of especial historical significance representing a turning point in British and world history” and would be damaged by the influx of vehicles and containers with the removal of the condition.
He also pointed to environmental concerns and warned that adders and other threatened species at Greenham Common were particularly sensitive to landscape changes.
He added: “I also believe that relaxing conditions imposed will set the ball rolling for future applications, and one must consider that the GAMA site should be protected for future generations.”
The application has also attracted the ire of the Oxford Trust for Contemporary History.
Daniel Scharf of the trust said: “The discussion should be about how the GAMA could be included in the list of World Heritage Sites and not whether extra harm would be caused by the storage of sea containers.”
He added that the “alien element” of containers would be particularly felt with the impending opening of the control tower café project which would provide views over the GAMA site.
The matter will ultimately be determined by West Berkshire Council at a later date.