Anger at new plan for homes in Wokingham town centre car park

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New plans for Denmark Street car park

THERE is anger that the consortium behind an unpopular proposed development in a conservation area have resubmitted revised plans, weeks after planning permission was turned down. 

This is the second time that developers, Lunar Office Sarl from Amersham have submitted a proposal for the Denmark Street site. The first proposal was for nearly 80 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, but was thrown out by Wokingham Borough Council’s planning department on Wednesday, July 31.

Since then, the company has closed the Euro Car Park – the council-owned car park on the same site is unaffected – and it has now launched a new website revealing a potential revised application. 

The new proposed development has changed slightly, with office buildings being included in the plan this time around. However, it makes no reference to the number of homes, or the sizes of them. 

The plans do show more overground car parking and a less dense approach. 

The website says: “These emerging proposals seek to address the Council’s reasons for refusal with a re-designed scheme and providing additional information on car parking within the town centre.

“The revised proposals for the site continue to be influenced by the historic layout and pattern of this part of the town centre with Burgage plots running back from Denmark Street.

“The proposals now have a single, centrally located, vehicular access point which splits a previously larger building into two smaller buildings.

“The proposals also ‘draw back’ from the more sensitive site boundaries to provide greater separation with surrounding development.”

The website also references other changes that the developers are considering. 

“The buildings will be of a traditional appearance reflecting existing buildings in the town centre and will have pitched roofs.  Their height has been carefully considered taking into account the existing development surrounding the site and also the sloping nature of the site away from Denmark Street.”

Dave Davies, who was the leader of Wokingham Town Council until May and helped lead the campaign against the original development plans, said: “I am disappointed that the developer has chosen to push ahead with a proposal still seeming wholly unsuited to the area, also now having cynically closed the car park.

“I am confident the Council will see through this and uphold their previous decision as the fundamental reasons for rejection remain unchanged. 

“We have more than 3,500 people who have expressed their anger at this move through our petition, and I look forward to this all being resolved and the car park reopened.”

Cllr Daniel Hinton, leader of the Conservative group on Wokingham Town Council, added: “Obviously it is extremely disappointing to see the landowner ignore the voice of over 3,500 people who signed the petition.

“They are suggesting a development that is inappropriate for the area, and we will continue to fight this, and work with the Borough Council and landlord so that Denmark Street remains a car park.”

The Conservative members of the council were criticised by opposition parties for their car parking strategy within the town. 

Liberal Democrat Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, who is leader of Wokingham Town Council, was also concerned at the revised plans. 

She said: “The developers still haven’t fixed the main issue of access to the proposed site. They’re planning on using council land, and I don’t see the council giving them access.”

“Importantly, we need to maintain Denmark Street as a ground-level car park, which the residents of Wokingham need.

“We have found ourselves with a lack of car parking since the Conservative Council decided to develop on the Paddocks and Rose Street car parks. I am disgusted by this decision, as we now face the issue of a private landowner wanting to develop, and increase the value of their land.”

Cllr Rachel Burgess, Labour councillor for Norreys ward on Wokingham Borough Council, said: “This is unwelcome but not surprising.

“WBC left a huge open goal on this site by allocating it for development in their Wokingham Town master plan. They also made it clear that the Denmark Street car park was not part of their future car parking strategy for Wokingham Town.

“It’s clear that residents do not want the development but once again the planning process and the Tories have let people down.

“The least Wokingham Borough Council can do is own up to their error.”

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Janet Langley

Completely unsuitable. The developers should be ashamed of themselves.