Watching the squabbling during West Berkshire Council executive’s meeting, you begin to understand why London Road Industrial Estate regeneration has got nowhere for 20 years.
This council-owned site, along with the former Newbury FC ground, is ripe for redevelopment for something a bit special with all mod cons and, of course, all the virtue-signalling sustainability boxes ticked.
But it was clear at the meeting other agendas were at play as councillors made digs and political points dressed up as genuine questions.
When you consider this has been going on for 20 years, it’s harder to have any confidence that progress will actually be made beyond the planning application.
Given that there’s hardly a policy difference between Conservatives, LibDems and Greens nationally, they have found many things to argue about at West Berkshire Council and too few of them involve making residents’ lives better.
Had the council acted sooner, the rent it takes from businesses at the London Road Industrial Estate could be way higher than the £400,000 per annum it gets currently.
Contrast that with the remarkable success story that is Milton Park where, under the ownership of MEPC, and along with Enterprise Zone status, it is constantly evolving to meet new demands and market conditions.
Visiting Milton Park at any point in recent years, you would have witnessed construction or refurbishments going on. The new Bee House is an attractive place and not the only hub-type location on the park.
Meanwhile in Newbury, the town centre is crying out for regeneration but inevitable squabbles continue over what should be done. But if they can’t improve a drab industrial estate nearby, what hope is there for the centre?
How many developers have been put off investing by a local authority which appears incapable of acting beyond its political infighting?
Local children are to be asked to come up with a new name for the London Road Industrial Estate. Perhaps they could be asked for ideas about making it happen.
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