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For sale: Bids invited for Greenham Common control tower

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

greenham control tower 2
DO you fancy owning an iconic Cold War building with fantastic views? If so, the Grade II-listed air traffic Control Tower on Greenham Common could be for you. After months of discussion, the tower has formally been put up for sale by West Berkshire Council, which has indicated that it will consider applications for a change of use of the building for housing, offices, a cafe, a cinema or even a place of worship. It stands in approximately half an acre and is one of the few period buildings that remain on former air base. It is located on the northern edge of the common just off Bury’s Bank Road and commands far-reaching views mainly to the south, east and west towards the Hampshire Downs. The tower, derelict since the Americans left the Greenham Common airbase in the early 1990s, is sure to atttact at least one bid after Greenham Parish Council voted to submit an offer for it last month. The council’s bid will be be carried out under part of the localism act which allows community groups to purchase facilities of importance to them. It wants to open up the tower as a visitors centre but is working against the clock as it has six months to secure funding and place a bid during which time, the district council cannot sell the tower to anyone else, although it does not have to accept Greenham’s offer either. However, because it is Greenham Common, controversy is never far away and now the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at West Berkshire Council are clashing on how the sale should be handled. The Liberal Democrats want the building to be leased to the parish council at a ‘peppercorn rent’. Deputy leader Roger Hunneman said: “If the Conservative administration believes in localism – which they say they do – then they should prove it by making the tower available to Greenham Parish Council.” Mr Hunneman was responding to comments made by the Leader of West Berkshire Council, Gordon Lundie, over criticism from the parish council that the district council was pushing for a sale of the tower while at the same time it was giving away 5.5 acres of public land, valued at £3.9m for the Market Street development in Newbury. “Giving away the tower would be a loss of an asset for no benefit and that the council could only make no charge for the tower if there was significant community benefit to be gained,” said Mr Lundie. “I have an obligation to get best value. I cannot just give away value, so if a commercial buyer is offering significantly more, I would take their offer as better value for the community,” “I am not against giving it to the parish council if it is something that benefits the local community and they will need to show added value to justify any reduced price.” The chairman of Greenham parish council, Tony Forward, said that he would welcome a decision to rent the tower rather than trying to buy it. He said: “Ownership is not something I am concerned with, the paramount thing is to bring the control tower back into public use.” Any interested parties have until 5pm, September 11 to lodge a bid with agents Carter Jonas. For more information regarding the tower, visit www.controltowergreenham.com

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