Agenda item

Application No.201022 - Old School Hall, High Street, Twyford

Recommendation: Conditional approval


Proposal: Full application for the proposed restoration and conversion of existing building into a library, erection of a single storey lobby/link area and a two storey extension to provide multi-purpose community facilities including a café, plus associated landscaping and demolition of existing public toilets (phased)


Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council (WBC)


The Committee received a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 107 to 158.


The Committee were advised that there were no Members’ Updates.


Wayne Smith, on behalf of the applicant, spoke in support of the application. Wayne stated that it had been a long journey to get to this stage, and he hoped that the Committee would approve this application. Wayne wished to thank the case officer Simon Taylor, WBC officer Mark Redfearn, and David Turner from the Polehampton Trust for all of their help and support in getting the application to this stage.


John Halsall, on behalf of the applicant, spoke in support of the application. John stated that he was delighted to support the application, which had been on a long but highly enjoyable journey. John wished to thank David Turner, James Fort, John Jarvis, Andrew Cardy and Wayne Smith for their help and support in the development of this project and application. John added that this project would be of no financial benefit to the Borough Council, but it would be a community asset for the village. John extended his thanks to both the Twyford Borough and Parish Councillors for their support.


Lindsay Ferris, Ward Member, spoke in support of the application. Lindsay wished to thank David Turner, who had been instrumental in ensuring that this project progressed forwards. Lindsay stated that he fully supported this application, as it was a much needed community facility for Twyford, whilst retaining and using a Grade 2 listed building. Lindsay queried whether some of the nearby car parking be designated solely for use of the library, and was the replacement of the toilets in phase two planned and included within this application.


Stephen Conway stated that he was pleased to see this application come forward, and pointed out that this application would renew a previous consent that was granted to the Polehampton Trust in 2016, with the new applicant being WBC. Stephen stated that the listed building had been used as a temporary library before, and had been given outline consent for a library in the past. Stephen added that the proposals would cause minor harm to the listed building, disruption of roosting bats, and the loss of a sycamore tree, however the community benefits of the proposals outweighed the negatives. Stephen stated that this had been a community aspiration for 20 years, and he could personally testify for the strong sense of community support for a new library in Twyford.


Andrew Mickleburgh stated that the registered speakers’ sentiments reflected the merits of this project and the people that made it happen. Andrew queried whether the existing toilet block was still in use, and whether an informative could be added asking that infrastructure be installed to allow the easy installation of additional electric vehicle charging points in the future. Simon Taylor, case officer, stated that the toilets were due to be refurbished during stage one and then demolished in stage two. Regarding the car parking, Simon stated that this was situated outside of the red line boundary and therefore had to be dealt with separately.


Pauline Jorgensen queried what might happen to the old library site. Stephen Conway suggested that it may be a possibility that this site could be demolished to provide additional car parking, however this was outside of the scope of this application.


Gary Cowan queried why the Environment Agency were not in the list of consultees. Justin Turvey, Operational Manager – Development Management, stated that the Environment Agency were not a statutory consultee for this application. Gary stated that he did not like the loss of the sycamore tree, however on balance the benefits of the scheme outweighed this.


Angus Ross queried whether informative 10, relating to listed building consent, was part of this planning application or a separate issue. Simon Taylor stated that the listed building consent had been separately submitted and would be determined alongside this application under delegated powers.


Chris Bowring stated that there would be some damage to the listed building, and suggested that listed building consent should possibly come to the Committee for future applications.


Carl Doran concurred with comments made by Simon Weeks, in that the Committee may have looked on this application differently if it was for a commercial or residential development, however the community benefits outweighed the harm in this instance.


The Committee gave their thanks to all those who enabled the development of the proposals and the project as a whole.


RESOLVED That application 201022 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 108 to 122.

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