Friday, 27 November 2020

Car repair workshop too big, say councillors

PLANS for a new car workshop have been opposed by Wargrave Parish Council for being too big.

PLANS for a new car workshop have been opposed by Wargrave Parish Council for being too big.

GTO Engineering, which repairs and services vintage Ferraris, wants to build an office block and garages on the site of the former Mabey headquarters in Floral Mile, Bath Road, Hare Hatch.

It would demolish several smaller buildings on the site and extend the main block to provide a workspace for car repairs and install garage doors. The volume of the building would increase by 140 per cent.

The site would be accessed from Mumbery Hill and a second entrance on the A4 would be used for “ceremonial” purposes.

The Wokingham family firm was founded in the Eighties by Mark Lyon and also has branches in Chester and Basingstoke.

Mr Lyon told a meeting of the parish council: “We have been here for about 14 years. We really like it and enjoy being here. It’s a pleasant area and clients like to come here.

“We’ve been looking for sites around this area for five years, all sorts of different properties, but nothing has come up.

“When Mabey House came up I spoke to the council directly. There was a care home application at the time and we didn’t get planning consideration.

“We realise this is an increase in area and volume but we do need that size and scale and we believe we will consolidate the site. We want to follow the rules and do what we need to do.”

Councillors said while they thought the workshop would be a good fit for the site and would provide employment, they were worried it was too big for a green belt area.

Councillor Andrew Luckwell said: “I’m just a bit twitchy on the size and what kind of precedent that could set.”

Councillor Philip Davies said: “I do get the size thing, although I think it’s a prestigious development.

“I think it would be good for the local economy — it’s much better than previous applications and a good use of the site.”

Chairman Richard Bush said: “It does come down to the size but we must bear in mind the employment it would create.”

Members also expressed concern about the entrance on Mumbery Hill, which is partially obscured by trees.

Councillor Terry Cattermole said: “This entrance has very poor visibility and there are no plans to improve that.” Councillor Marion Pope said: “I wouldn’t want to see the trees removed but that entrance does worry me.”

The council resolved to object on the grounds of bulk and mass in the green belt but encouraged GTO to persevere with the plans.

Cllr Bush said: “I think it would be wrong not to take account of the green belt.

“We are going to have to object on those grounds but I would hope it’s an ongoing saga and they will come back with more.”

In 2013, plans for a 70-room care home on the site were turned down after Wokingham Borough Council said the development was too big.

The two-storey building would have covered an area of 3,628sqm with 20-room wings, a communal area, kitchen, café and administration areas.

The parish council had objected to the plans and held an open session with villagers to discuss the plans.

The borough council will make a decision on the workshop application next month.

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