PLANS to turn an empty office block above Bracknell railway station into new flats have been given the green light.
Developer Westrock Ltd wants to turn the 50,000 sq ft Station House, in Market Street, into 96 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom flats – and has now been given planning permission by Bracknell Forest Council.
Concerns had been raised by Bracknell Town Council, which was worried about parking problems.
Commenting on the application, it said: “There are concerns regarding the lack of parking provision. While this is a town centre development, many residents will still own a car, plus any elderly or disabled residents may need parking.
“If no parking provision is made, residents will seek alternative places to park which will have an impact on local residents and road safety.” But Alexandra Webster, from Andmore Planning – which is representing Westrock Ltd – said this had been considered by its client.
She said: “As part of the decision to grant approval, there are about 100 parking spaces in the multi-storey car park nearby which are allocated for the offices and they would become available to residents.” The development can potentially begin straight away, following a change in planning laws introduced to streamline the system last year.
Previously, a full planning application would have to be submitted, possibly taking months to be decided. However, the national changes reduce the time and paperwork, although developers must show there will not be a detrimental impact on traffic or any contamination or flood risk at the site before gaining approval.
It is believed there are more than a million square feet of office space in Bracknell Forest, although there has been an increase in applications to convert it to residential use since the change in the law.
Aravinda Neuman, from Westrock Ltd, said: “We’re very excited for this and with Bracknell’s redevelopment we think it will be a success.” He was unable to give a timescale on when the conversion would take place.
When the News broke the story in January there was mixed reaction to the plans, with some residents saying they would not want to live near the railway station. Others said it could suit younger people.