Friday, June 14, 2024

How to make your views known about the Kennet Centre replacement

Here is the link you need in order to comment on the Planning Appeal concerning the plans to replace the Kennet Centre in Newbury:

Here is our earlier story on the planning appeal, together with some background information:

A developer has appealed refused plans to rework the Kennet Shopping centre.

It means the new look of Newbury town centre will be in the Government’s hands.

The third set of plans for the so-called Eagle Quarter were thrown out by West Berkshire Council last autumn.

The plans have been previously criticised for trying to turn Newbury into Reading or Basingstoke, but despite amendments by develper Lochialort to ‘make it more Newbury’ they were rejected.

The Eagle Quarter vision is to replace the ageing Kennet Shopping centre in a £115m rebuild which would see multi-storey blocks of flats tower over the town centre.

The plans have been condemned by conservationists, who say the “six-storey blocks of flats are hardly appropriate for a conservation area”.

Lochailort wants to build 367 flats on the site – down from the 402 originally proposed.

It claims it will breathe new life into the town centre and “act as a catalyst for growth and continued success of Newbury”.

In response to the criticism of how the development might look, Lochailort employed a top heritage architect to give it a “more Newbury” feel.

But the conservationists still think the height and bulk is simply not appropriate for Newbury, with blocks of flats rising to 10 storeys.

“It is common ground with all the interested parties, that the Kennet Centre should be demolished and redeveloped as a town centre, brownfield site with new streets, public spaces and landscaping, shops, restaurants, cafes and community facilities (including a ‘Library of Things’),” said Lochailort director Hugo Haig.

“We are confident that this, alongside the 367 residential units now proposed, refurbished and enhanced multi-storey car park, and the office accommodation, will breathe new life into the town centre and act as a catalyst for growth and continued success of Newbury.”

The appeal will be deternmined on the basis of the inquiry and further comments can be made to the planning inspector until July 17.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard on October 10.

Background information:

In 2021, development company Lochailort had submitted plans to transform the Kennet Shopping centre into a high-rise, multi-purpose complex, with the highest levels reaching 11 storeys.

It would provide 402 new homes, 5,355 sq m of office space, including a headquarters office building, 2,413 sq m of lettable flexible commercial space and a two-storey car park extension.

However the scheme came under severe criticism for its scale, with Newbury town councillor Gary Norman (Lib Dem, Wash Common) saying he would “lie down in front of the bulldozers” before allowing it to go ahead in its current form.

As a result, Lochailort revised its planning application.

The tallest element – Block A and previously 11 storeys – was reduced by two storeys, meaning the highest part of Eagle Quarter will be lower than Parkway.

The second tallest element, Block B, was reduced by one storey, and Block C, which fronts Cheap Street, reduced and set further back from Cheap Street.

The number of flats was then reduced from 402 to 381, with the pedestrianised street through the centre of the development, a GP surgery and medical hub, and the units for local, independent and artisan retailers remaining.

Further consultation was then undertaken by WBC and, while acknowledging the reduction in height, Newbury Town Council and the Newbury Society maintained their objections to the scheme in terms of design and heritage.