The developer behind the proposed Eagle Quarter at Newbury has offered a vigorous response to opposition to the scheme after planning permission was refused by West Berkshire Council.
The authority issued its delegated decision on November 4, giving nine reasons for refusing the scheme of 367 homes, 30 flexible retail units and either a tech incubator hub or 91 retirement homes, which would replace the ailing Kennet Centre.
The council called it ‘an over-powering and dominant feature within the town centre’ and referred to flood risk, insufficient affordable housing, amenity space and public open space along with a number of highways concerns.
Hugo Haig, director of developer Lochailort, a Thames Tap partner, has given us his exclusive view of the council’s decision.
He said: “Truly, I think it is disgusting that these public servants charge £175,000 for the privilege of submitting an application and then, when having addressed their concerns and having got them to say ‘it’s fantastic’, do a volte face and issue a delegated refusal because the Newbury Preservation Society (some unelected minority purporting to be the mouth piece of the town) have managed to persuade someone at Historic England to say that he actually quite likes the existing 70s concrete box and that our scheme is too high (it happens to be lower than the recent Parkway Shopping Centre redevelopment in the town). The way we are made to go about this is fundamentally wrong.
“We are supposedly in a climate emergency, we should be reusing and redeveloping brownfield sites first, ones that are the most sustainable; in town centres, near railway and bus stations, shops, offices etc; ones exactly like the Kennet Centre, with good – no, the best – architecture, so we have two top architects in their field, Robert Adam and Roy Collado of Collado Collins.
“We will be building back, beautiful. We have the latest technologies at the heart of our sustainability work, saving 3,000 tonnes of carbon a year. Surely, in all the sites in all the world, this one is most suitable for accommodating as high a density as possible.
“But no, they go and refuse it and the first reason for refusal was that it has failed the sequential test. Really?
“And they will grant a planning permission on some greenfield development on the edge of town everyone will have to drive to so you end up with 10 families per acre rather than a hundred.
“So, to match our scheme, 35 acres of greenfield would disappear.
“Not on your nelly – they are just a bunch of box tickers making the same mistakes they did last time around and not one of them is brave enough to grasp the bigger picture and make the right decision for the future of the town and for those who come after us.
“I drove past the Tower of London today, it is taller than our Newbury scheme, surrounded by skyscrapers – and it’s a World Heritage Site.”
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