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Plan to replace historic Thatcham homes with flats rejected

'Adverse affects overwhelmingly outweighed the benefits'

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Plan to replace historic Thatcham homes with flats rejected

A BID to demolish historic buildings and replace them with flats has been refused. 

West Berkshire Council planners said that Young Estates and Land Ltd’s application to replace 12-16 Chapel Street (pictured right) with 17 apartments lacked detail and would have a harmful impact on the area. 

The Aldermaston-based applicant had said there was an “interesting opportunity” to create a “high-quality, sustainable development of mixed dwellings in the town centre”.

But residents, councillors and planners disagreed. 

Residents lodged 12 objections with concerns ranging from  the “piecemeal erosion of the historic centre of Thatcham” to increased traffic. 

The site is adjacent to Thatcham Methodist Church, which the Pied Piper Nursery operates out of, and concerns about overdevelopment and loss of privacy and security were raised. 

Thames Valley Police had also commented that the orientation of the blocks provided little or no ground floor surveillance over parking areas.

Refusing the scheme, West Berkshire Council said that the adverse affects overwhelmingly outweighed the benefits.  

Discussing the demolition of 12-16 Chapel Street, the council said: “Although the proposed development site is outside of the town’s Conservation Area and the buildings are unlisted, they still are attractive in design and use of materials.

“They clearly contribute to the historic core of the town, being visible features in the street scene of an important through route as part of the old London to Bath Road.”

The council said the site lacked sufficient private amenity space for each flat and would cause “a significant impact” on sunlight levels at the nearby Thatcham Court care home.

Planners said that “the design appears to be internally led to provide a sufficient number of flats rather than reacting to the site in an effective manner of urban design.”

The council said that the development failed to achieve a satisfactory level of design that results in the development not making a positive contribution to the quality of life in West Berkshire.

“The proposed development would have an adverse impact on neighbouring amenity, in particular on the garden spaces on neighbouring dwellings and care home,” the council said. 

“The development also fails to provide sufficient internal amenity to many of the bedrooms of the flats promoting a poor level of quality of life for future occupiers.”

A shortfall of car parking spaces combined with increased vehicle journeys at a substandard access point on to the A4 were also highlighted. 

A lack of affordable housing because of the scheme’s viability was also commented on. The developer had said the scheme would be made further unviable if affordable housing was put in.

The council said that an independent analysis had found that the development could be viable.

But because of the several other objections raised, and not wishing to cause the applicant unnecessary expense, these options were not explored. 

A lack of details over flooding from the development was also noted. 

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