Mon, 21 Dec 2020
West Berkshire Council Eastern Area Planning Committee has approved an application to build a 28-space car park in Englefield.
The proposal had been lodged by the Englefield Estate and the new facility – located along The Street – will be linked to Englefield Primary School by an off-road footpath.
However, the project is not directly linked to the school and all residents would be able to use the bays.
Twelve spaces for bicycles will also be made available on site.
The estate says that the car park is a solution to the village's ongoing problems with traffic.
They state: "The Englefield Estate's core objective is to maintain the social, economic and environmental vitality of the village, by supporting local services and facilities and maintaining a diverse and vibrant community.
"In this context, the need for the village car park has been identified as one of a number of small-scale projects which are key to supporting the long-term vitality of the village.
"It is important to note that the purpose of the car park is to better manage traffic in the village, which at present becomes very congested at peak drop-off and collection times associated with the school.
"This results in significant parking on The Street and its verges, which obstructs the highway and creates a problem for pedestrian safety."
Despite this, council planners had previously recommended that the application be rejected.
They argued that a modern car park would be at odds with the rural and historic character of the area.
Last Wednesday the issue went before the committee.
Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield) led the charge in favour of the proposals. He asserted that many of the objections received by the council had come from outsiders and that Englefield villagers overwhelmingly wanted a new car park.
The local parish council also endorsed the scheme.
Mr Mackinnon said: "I get the objections, I really do – the loss of the infrastructure, the Grade II-listed building and the landscape visual impact.
"There's just a little nagging doubt in my mind that says, though, well, the loss of the infrastructure – it's the corner of a paddock.
"We're not paving paradise to put up a parking lot, it's going to be countryside-style materials.
"There's a similar car park to this over at Cobbs at Englefield, just the other side of the road."
Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale) echoed his colleague's sentiments.
The evident strength of feeling in the village for the plans, he said, led him away from his initial scepticism.
Mr Macro said: "All in all, I wasn't very keen on this initially, but then I did read the submissions made.
"I think it's most important, really, to look out for children's safety and I think that outweighs the little harm – well, the non-significant harm – that this would do.
"I think that would be a mistake because the car park's near the shop, the post office and the tea rooms.
"It would be silly, really, to have a car park that's only used for half-an-hour a day, and then have cars having to park on the street when they want to use the post office or whatever."