Wed, 24 Oct 2018
BUILDING a car showroom on the edge of Thatcham will not have a significant impact on the environment, West Berkshire Council has said.
Dick Lovett Hungerford BMW and Mini is planning to relocate from the town to land between Turnpike Road and Benham Hill.
The company had submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening opinion request, to determine positive and negative environmental effects the development may have.
And last week West Berkshire Council said it did not think that the new £8m showroom was “likely to have significant effects on the environment”.
In reaching its decision, the council said that the showroom would be “an urban extension that would relate to existing and approved development in the area surrounding the site”.
Furthermore, the size and design of the showroom fell considerably below a scale that would raise concerns.
As for the location of the development, the council said: “Considering the surrounding land uses, the proposed development is not considered to attract undue levels of concern regarding the environmental sensitivity of the site.”
It added that the proposed works were not considered to entail significant impacts on the natural environment.
“Overall, the potential environmental effects of the development are considered insignificant in terms of the EIA regulations,” the council concluded.
The screening request was the first hurdle passed by Dick Lovett ahead of submitting a full planning application.
And with no EIA needed, the application was lodged last week.
The longest-serving official BMW dealer in the UK, starting in 1968, said that it needs to relocate the expanding business from Hungerford as the site is “simply unable to cope with anticipated growth required by BMW and Mini”.
The development will comprise a single-storey Mini showroom, BMW showroom, workshop, car wash and valet facilities.
Two access points will be built off Turnpike Road; the first for customer traffic and the second for vehicle transporters and site deliveries.
Planning documents said that the showroom would not only be “a landmark development for Newbury and Thatcham” but would also raise the visual standards of the area.
“The proposed development represents a considerable capital investment within the local economy,” the documents state.
“It will employ 100 members of staff, including highly-skilled mechanics, engineers and technical support staff in addition to the experienced sales team.
“All existing staff from the Hungerford dealerships will be offered the opportunity to relocate from the existing dealership.
“This increased scale of employment represents an expansion of the current workforce by some 150 per cent.”
The move from Hungerford was discussed at a recent meeting of Hungerford Town Council, where district councillor Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) said: “They’re moving to Newbury, lock, stock and barrel.
“It will have quite a negative impact on footfall in the town.
“The shops will miss the footfall from people taking cars in for a service and then spending time in town.”
Enter 18/02634/COMIND into West Berkshire Council’s planning website to view the application.