Thu, 30 Aug 2018
CONCERNS over where a new retailer should open in Newbury have intensified.
Parkway owners Aberdeen Standard have added their objections to plans to demolish the Narrow Boat pub and replace it with a 12,000 sq ft shopping unit at the London Road Retail Park.
Applicant PIL Newbury Ltd said that a tenant for the new unit has been identified, but add that discussions “are not sufficiently advanced” for it to be named at this stage.
Planning documents add: “The tenant would be a new entrant to the retail offer in Newbury and has identified a commercial requirement for an accessible ‘retail park’ type store in the town.”
But the out of town centre location for the new store has drawn concerns from Newbury’s shopping centre owners.
Aberdeen Standard has objected to the scheme saying that it conflicts with policy and “would further intensify the challenge posed by out-of-centre retail floorspace on the vitality and viability of Newbury town centre.
“The applicant has not justified the loss of a community facility, and has failed to provide evidence on the lack of market interest and lack of viability of a continued pub operation.”
The Parkway owners comments concerns from Kennet Centre owners HIG Luxembourg Holdings.
Writing on behalf of the centre’s owner, real estate firm CBRE said: “The Kennet Centre provides significant retail and leisure floorspace in Newbury town centre, which is suffering from a number of vacancies
“The proposed retail unit would be harmful to the vitality and viability of Newbury town centre, particularly the Kennet Centre.”
A planning statement submitted with the application assessing the commercial scene in Newbury refers to the former TK Maxx and Debenhams outlets in the Kennet Centre.
But despite the units being of a suitable size, the report added that neither unit was being actively marketed.
HIG said that this statement was incorrect as both units had been marketed from when the previous tenants vacated and are available.
And on the ambitious changes for the centre documents state that while an application was approved to change some units to restaurants, "the owners still want to retain a significant amount of retail floorspace in the centre and have no current plans to change it to a leisure focused offer."
HIG said that the plans would have an adverse impact on the future planned investment in the Kennet Centre.
“Creating further retail floorspace for an operator at the retail park would mean that the vacant floorspace in the Kennet Centre remains vacant; whereas, in reality, we consider that the proposed operator could locate in one of the vacant units at the Kennet Centre, without compromising their operator requirements.”
In its objection Aberdeen Standard said: “We note from the owners of the Kennet Centre, that there are sites that could accommodate the proposal as it is, within the Kennet Centre. Therefore, the applicant’s claim that there are no sequentially preferable sites within Newbury town centre is not correct.
Meanwhile, West Berkshire councillor Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) has asked for application to be determined by the council’s western area planning committee.
“There is concern that if the site is developed for retail use there could be an adverse effect upon the existing retail outlets within and around the town of Newbury – we already have a number of vacant shops within Newbury Town centre.”