Saturday, 4 February 2012

Wharf Cottages

It’s interesting to listen to the locals describe the history of Aldermaston Wharf.  It became a very busy transport hub when the Kennet & Avon Canal reached the area.  Many of the building adjacent to the wharf were built by the canal company and apparently some are still owned by BW.

These are on the corner of the road across the canal and the towpath.  And they are named “Wharf Cottages”  I’m fascinated by the local post box.

I hadn’t previously noticed it because it’s actually built into the wall between two of the cottages.  Apparently one of the cottages used to be a small shop.  The canal cafe and visitor centre is now the only retail outlet in the area.

The Aldermaston Canalside Cafe and Visitor Centre is also undergoing changes.  The is a planning notice attached to the fence advising the visitor car park is to be relocated and high density housing built around the visitor centre.  The application advises 11 dwellings will be erected on the site along with car parking and landscaping.  Garden walls, the pumping station and existing car park will be demolished.

Canal Cafe

The current car park and cafe must generate a reasonable income and I just hope the intended changes to the area doesn’t adversely affect the situation.  The developer is H2OUrban and on their website they state the advantages of the development are:

  • Retention and refurbishment of the Visitor Centre, and toll house, with enhanced public facilities.
  • Towpath improvements.
  • Improved car park for the visitors centre and canal visitors.

The website also states “This infill development will bring back to use vacant scrubland next to the Kennet and Avon Canal.”

Out of curiosity and boredom, I measure the canal frontage of the wharf where the proposed development will take place.  It’s 100 metres long.  The cafe current occupies 33 metres of the frontage. 

The developers website has some perspective drawings.

I’ve attempted to show the actual frontage on the drawing.  The 100 metres is the area between the two red vertical lines and the current visitor centre frontage between the blue lines.  The current car park occupies the area between the right blue and red lines. The area between the left blue and red lines is a strip of vacant land which only has a depth of about 10 metres.  It backs onto existing housing and there is no vehicle access.  It also contains a pumping station.

This drawing shows the right third of the development where the current car park is located.  I don’t understand how there can be a large grassed area at the right end (red arrow) as there doesn’t appear to be room for it.

This drawing shows the dwellings will be adjacent to the canal with the current visitor centre in between. The only room for parking will be behind the dwellings and visitor centre. There is no room (or vehicle access) for the planned dwellings in the left of the drawing.  So all the land for visitors and dwelling occupants parking will have to come from the cafe garden area and the land behind the dwellings in the right of the drawing.   If there is to be no reduction in the number of existing car parks and each new dwelling it to also get at least one parking space then the only way I can see this occurring is for the cafe garden area to be significantly reduced.  I assume it depends upon your understanding of the developers commentImproved car park for the visitors centre and canal visitors”!

“Improved” may not mean the same number of parks or even the same size.

I understand the land is owned by British Waterways.  So what is the advantage to them?  I assume they are selling the land to the developer and part of the development provides for some upgrading to the visitor centre and wharf side (additional visitor moorings?  The area gets tidied up at no cost to BW.

3 comments :

Davidss said...

I hadn't looked at this before I saw your blog.
You might also be interested in http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2073913_canalside_development_plans_to_go_on_display which dates from July 2010, and which might give you more background than you have seen already.
I also found a satellite view of the Wharf Cottages on Google maps http://g.co/maps/z3ssf I was able to 'find' the Visitor Centre in this shot.
I too cannot see how the Car Parking is to be arranged. If, repeat IF, the cars parked in the Satellite shot are in the space used by land visitors to the Visitor Centre it's difficult to see how it can be 'improved', unless the improvement is to reduce the amount of parking available.

You might have to ask H2O for clarity on those points. I notice their web site mentions both 11 and 13 houses. It might be as well to query that discrepancy with them.

Good Luck.

Tom and Jan said...

It would appear the existing car park will be demolished to make room for the dwellings. The only way I can see that the same number of car spaces can be retained is to place them adjacent to the road.
But this wouldn't provide sufficient room for the residents of the new dwellings to also have car parking.

Kevin said...

If you look at their web site you will see that "H2O develops residential and commercial projects adjacent to the British Waterways network in the UK."

They have tried all sorts of 'daft ideas' along the canal network, all to try and bring in a few coppers for their fat bonuses... and all to the detriment of the historical environment.

Yes I have an axe and I will grind it, sorry for the rant.

Kevin