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West Berkshire Council announces next steps for Newbury industrial estate

An ambitious project to redevelop an industrial estate in Newbury has taken a step forward with the publication of a draft development brief for the site.

Regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate will deliver new office and light industrial space in the area. As well as new business space, subject to wider consultation regeneration could also deliver up to 544 new homes on the site and provide an opportunity to introduce new active travel routes making it easier for people to travel through that part of town.

As well as meeting a commitment made in the Council Strategy, regeneration also supports a wider regional effort to create more opportunities for businesses looking to move into the area as well as providing space for start-ups looking to get off the ground. A recent study by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership identified a need for more affordable innovation spaces within town centres in Berkshire – and regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate will help.

Regeneration of the area has been a long-held ambition for the Council and in December, the Council commissioned a report from independent consultants on the redevelopment. The report has found that regeneration remains a viable prospect and puts forward possible options for developing a new masterplan for the area. Proposals involve either regeneration on a block-by-block basis over time or wholescale redevelopment which is done all at once.

Although options for regeneration are put forward no proposals are made with regards to the mix of office and industrial space, local amenities and housing. The development brief is due to be considered by the Executive next Thursday (3 September) and subject to approval a consultation on the plans will be held to seek wider views from the community on how to proceed with regeneration.

In coming up with its proposals the consultants, Avison Young, spoke to existing businesses on the site as well as other local stakeholders.

Speaking about the proposal, Councillor Ross Mackinnon, Executive Member for Finance and Economic Development said: “We want West Berkshire to be a place which welcomes business, enterprise and industry. In the district we already have a very competitive offer for start-ups and businesses wanting to grow but we want to do more. Regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate will help us protect existing jobs and create new ones by creating some first-rate office and industrial space.”

A spokesman on behalf of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The impacts of Covid-19 are bringing unprecedented challenges to Berkshire and we do not yet fully know how our economy will be impacted by the crisis. However, the LEP is committed to safeguarding business interests and protecting the existing economic strengths of the Berkshire economy as we all adapt to the post Covid-19 landscape. We are therefore working closely with stakeholders in order to develop a ‘Berkshire Local Recovery and Renewal Strategy’ which will be a key element of our response to the impact of Covid-19 and it is our ambition to build a more sustainable and resilient local economy. “

In proceeding with regeneration of the area, West Berkshire Council will support businesses on the site, regardless of whether they stay on the redeveloped site or look for alternative accommodation elsewhere.

Although regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate has been discussed for some time, it will also now support the Council’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy to help the district bounce back after a difficult few months. A priority within the strategy is to protect and maintain the economic success of West Berkshire, and this includes taking advantages of new opportunities as different markets emerge. As the redevelopment proceeds, West Berkshire Council will be making sure that the area meets future needs in the town.

Plans for the regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate are separate to ongoing work to develop a new masterplan for Newbury town centre and together will ensure Newbury is future-proofed and ready for future generations to live in, work in and socialise in.

Councillor Mackinnon added: “This is more than job creation and business space although these are our primary focus as we move forward with regeneration. The scheme could also deliver new housing, helping us deliver on one of our priorities to develop a housing mix which has something for everyone. It’s a huge project and an important one, and I hope local people will let us have their views on how they want the area to be developed.”

Until redevelopment of the London Road Industrial Estate begins, a new temporary open space will be created on the site of the former Faraday Road sports ground. The recreational space will be provided for community use only until the land is required for regeneration. Work is due to begin this autumn with the creation of an area of grass surrounded by a rail and hard surface. It is expected to open in Spring 2021. Before work can safely begin, contractors will be appointed to demolish a derelict clubhouse on the site which is in a dangerous condition and beyond repair. Contractors will be appointed and will submit an application for demolition in the coming weeks.

West Berkshire Council is also looking at options to build a new football facility in the Newbury area. Consultants have completed a feasibility study of three possible sites on land owned by the Council, and the Council is also looking at other options working with partners to deliver a new facility. This will create a new sports provision in the area, providing somewhere for Newbury Football Club to play home games as well as being available for wider community use. It is hoped that further details about potential sites will be released in the autumn.

The draft development brief will be discussed at Executive on 3 September and additional information on the regeneration project can be found on our website here: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/lrie.

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