Thu, 28 Dec 2017
THE design of a proposed multi-storey retirement complex in Newbury town centre has been branded “boring” and “unimaginative” by Newbury town councillors.
Members of the council’s planning and highways committee laid into the proposals during a discussion of the planned new development, which will replace the Iceland supermarket in Bartholomew Street.
Architect Robin Gill defended the 61-bed scheme, saying his design offered “depth and interest”.
The new complex would be a mix of three and four storeys and would be built on the now largely empty Pearl House site.
While the redevelopment of the site was welcomed in principle, councillors objected to the plans, saying the proposed design would be a “missed opportunity” to significantly improve the street scene in Bartholomew Street.
Members also raised issue with the level of parking included in the plans with developer Eden (Pearl House) Ltd, proposing just 28 spaces.
Speaking at the meeting held at Newbury Town Hall on Wednesday, December 6, Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) said: “We do have an opportunity here. I think this council has got to be a little bit more positive and put their foot down in metaphorical terms.”
Mr Beck proposed a motion to object to the plans.
He added: “I do have concerns about the number of parking spaces. As has been pointed out, it’s not just the residents themselves, it’s the people who are coming to care for them, or visit.
“We are in the town centre and the architect’s suggestion they don’t need cars is quite frankly ridiculous.”
Mr Gill also moved to allay fears that the balconies fronting the town centre street may become cluttered with washing, bikes and other things.
“The balconies will be solid up to around waist or chest height, so you won’t see anything below that,” he said. “There’ll also be an onsite manager to make sure it doesn’t look unsightly.”
The architect, from Basingstoke firm Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt, also said the level of parking met national standards for a retirement living complex.
Two councillors voted against the objection, including Miles Evans (Con, Victoria), whose ward covers the town centre.
Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I like the modern design, which is an improvement on previous plans I’ve seen and on the building which currently occupies this space.
“I’d encourage the developers to engage with local residents and businesses, especially around understandable concerns related to construction.
“As someone who lives in a new development myself, I know first-hand the difference that a balcony can make to a property.
“Despite concerns over public-facing balconies, as in my case, I am confident that the future managing agent will address the building’s external appearance in contracts – namely, you won’t be able to hang your washing outside.
He added: “This is another good news story for our town.
“A developer would not be committing time and this level of investment if they were not confident Newbury was a great place to invest and live.”
A decision on the plans will be made by West Berkshire Council at a later date.