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Bats and Stone Age finds could hamper Weekly News plans

Plans to redevelop the Newbury Weekly News site by replacing their building with apartments and office space are facing a number of serious challenges.

Despite a recent article highlighting Newbury Town Council's support for the plans in the Newbury Weekly News, several parties have expressed concerns about the proposals.

Among those to questioning the plans is West Berkshire's Brian Lyttle. The Planning and Transport Policy Manager said he noted the bat surveys were taken at a time of year that is not a prime time for bats.

He added: "I would have liked some surveys of bat foraging and commuting habits on the site as the canal to the south is a potential rich habitat for foraging bats and it would to better to have information about how far into the site they might egress."

Meanwhile specialists in the Town's history were left wondering why they weren't consulted earlier in the planning process given the high archaeological potential of the site.

"I am sorry that we were not consulted at a pre-app stage, as this is a site with very high archaeological potential, particularly for the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic period.

"An important early Mesolithic hunting site was excavated at former Council offices at Faraday Road in 1997, and many flint finds were previously reported from Greenham Dairy Farm and the sewage pumping station. These sites are about 150m to the east, but even closer were the flint working sites found when the A34/A339 dual carriageway was constructed.

"Victoria Park is another hotspot with many reports of finds - and recent research by Reading University and Wessex Archaeology found Mesolithic material at very shallow depths in a test pit." said Sarah Orr, Senior Archaeologist at the Council.

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