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Council set to give housing land to school

1.5 acres valued at up to £1.9m

Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook

West Berkshire Council logo

PUBLIC land that could be used to build £1.7m of affordable housing will instead be given to a school, according to a confidential report. 

The 1.5 acres of land at Love Lane, Shaw, will be transferred to the Newbury Academy Trust to expand capacity at Trinity School.

West Berkshire Council, which owns the land, estimated it could sell it to a private developer for up to £1.9m to build eight homes. 

The council also considered it for affordable housing – 12 homes, worth £1.7m in total, could be built on the land. 

However, the land will be used as a sports pitch for the school. The council is proposing to move £1.5m from its education capital programme into the overall capital budget to cover the transfer. 

The £1.5m would be £400,000 below the best possible valuation.

The details were published in a report to the council’s influential executive committee, which meets tonight (Thursday). The confidential report was published on the council’s website on August 28, before being removed a day later. 

According to the report, written by property services manager Richard Turner: “Should the project not progress, there is a real risk of Trinity catchment pupils not being able to access secondary provision in Newbury and Thatcham and would therefore have to be transported to the next nearest school with places, which is going to be Theale Green or John O’Gaunt.

“This would incur significant home to school transport costs, would significantly impact on our ability to meet parental preference and be extremely unpopular with parents/carers.”

The report said: “The alternative options for housing development and disposal of the site for capital receipt presents risks associated with planning consent and also the inherent risks of the housing development market.”

Councillors will be able to ask the executive about the plans at tonight’s meeting, but the recommendation is for the public and press to be excluded. 

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