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Kennet Centre replacement: Developer appeals

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.