Image Evelyn Williams. It is understood work will be complete next week. Plans include reconnecting the water to fill the fountain. When it was restored in 1990 water flowed for a couple of years but idiots blocked it with gum and other stuff.
The membership year runs from January to December and so renewals are now due. We do hope that existing members will wish to rejoin to support our activities. In March we are planning hold the AGM (these are always brief) along with a talk. COVID may however push us on line.
The membership renewal form may be accessed Membership renewal form 2022 The annual fee is £10 (single) or £15 (for two people at the same address). The membership form gives details of our bank account to enable payment electronically. We do however accept the good old fashioned cheque.
Station Retail Park Development (the TGI Fridays/ ALDI/ Majestic Wine Warehouse site), Caversham Road / Vastern Road: Application for Outline Planning Consent now submitted.
3 April 2020 An application for Outline Planning Consent has been submitted for this site No 200328. The link to the application on RBCs Planning site is HERE
A final exhibition was held on 30 & 31 October 2019. The link HERE takes you to information about the proposals. On Social Media there are understandable concerns from local residents about the loss of the supermarket and other facilities, which will not be replaced for 5 years (the expected time the scheme will take to complete). If taken to completion this scheme will add some 900 flats and some office space with retail on the ground floors. The scheme raised a lot of opposition from people living in Caversham the company commented after the exhibition that “Most of the 220 comments came from Caversham residents and 70% objected.” The Reading on Thames Nov 2019 blog commented “The height of the tall building has been pointlessly shrunk to placate the moaners from Caversham Heights.”
On 21 January members of the RCS committee, the CAAC and CADRA met Barton Willmore, the advisors behind the scheme, high up in the Blade to gain a better understanding of what is proposed here. When we meet developers and their agents in this way there is an agreement about confidentiality. It would not however be any surprise that as the site is owned by AVIVA (pension company) that Barton Willmore are developing a scheme which will lead to an Outline Planning Application, the site will then be sold on to a developer who will submit a detailed application with a view to implementation. We were given to understand that the leases on the sites end from 2021 to 2025. It will probably take up to 2 years to work up an outline planning application which gains consent so it is understandable why the scheme has been raised now.
The concerns we raised with BW included: how would construction be undertaken, would the whole site be worked on at the same time or would it work block by block as each lease came to and end (difficult either way), the challenges of all the construction traffic serving developments on Station Hill, SSE, Reading Metropolitan and this site all at pretty much the same time, the closeness of the accommodation blocks to each other, views though the site from the station to the Thames, how the design of the 3 nearby development sites work together (SSE Vastern Road, Reading Metropolitan (the former GPO Sorting Office)), pollution from the nearby road, the accumulated impact of the town centre developments on Healthcare facilities, what social facilities would be provided to build communities, are the units for sale or rent, affordable element? We have been offered a return discussion when there is more information.
Further proposals for Local Listing
The CAAC/ RCS has recently proposed to RBC that a further 18 buildings be added to the list including; The former Gas Offices (now Haslams) and the former Post Office in Fiar Stret, the Former Co-op (now Primark), Elizabeth House in Gosbrook Road. The link to the proposals, with images, is HERE. Having the idea is one thing, we now have to complete the RBC form to justify the proposal. If you have suggestions for buildings to be added then please let RB know and say why, and please include images.
The site of Drews DIY, 71-73 Caversham Road was added to the Local List on 11 February.A collection of buildings at the corner of Caversham Road and Northfield Road, with strong historical/social and industrial connections to the Reading beer industry. original owner, Henry Pendlebury Dowson, was a notable Reading figure. He was a well-known local businessman and maltster who owned two other malthouses in Reading. The buildings were built for the purposes of malting in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, but these were later converted to other commercial uses; although the principal structures survive. The buildings contain features notable to the area and the industry such as patterned brickwork and decorative arches and are an important feature in the local townscape. Full details HERE.
An exhibition held at the end of January explained the next two phases of the Station Hill development by the US company Lincoln Property. Demolition work is almost complete on the old buildings in Friar Street and thorough to the Station. Garrard Street Car Park will be demolished in the summer. Phase I will provide 538 flats. A planning application has been submitted for Phase II which will provide a further 750. There are plans for two blocks of Offices and a 450 bed hotel The car parking spaces will reduce from around 850 to around 820 but instead of the parking being for the public use they will all be for residential, office and Hotel use. This site has been so long in abeyance it is good to see the company moving forward so determinedly on this scheme. The design overall looks very encouraging. The development is all Build to Rent so it will be interesting to see the level of demand for what will undoubtedly be high quality but, no doubt, expensive flats. There is a commitment to provide “affordable” rented homes. To quote the ever sound Steve Woodford (MD of Haslams Estate Agents) back in November about the numbers of Build-to-Rent flats in the Reading pipeline. He said: “My view is, ok, they can’t all go on the open market, but how many can Reading absorb and deal with?” To learn more best to look at the company website HERE. The Reading on Thames Blog covers the issues pretty well HERE.
An exhibition was held on 27 February about the future plans for the site. Several members of Reading Civic Society attended. The full planning application is now live and the Society will comment supportively.
King Edwards Building Added to the Local List in Feb 2020
The future of Reading Golf Club (updated 18 Feb to reflect information on the banners)Several of the committee attended the public exhibition on 11 February about the future of the Reading Golf Club site. The club has decided they have to close as it is not economic for them to maintain their grounds, which is not able to support golf all year. There are also too many golf clubs in the area and overall membership is falling at all but the most exclusive clubs. (this is an international problem). The plan is to “merge” with Caversham Heath Golf Club. The proposal outlined is: 1 Some 250 new homes, 80% being houses and nearly 65% being 3 + bed houses, affordable houses (tenancy / sale) which are “tenure” blind. The house design a bit uninspired and conventional and it would be nice to encourage something a bit more inspired. 2. A large proportion of the site (40% of the overall club land – in Oxfordshire and Reading) will become a public space (a new public park was the way they were explaining it). At the moment members of the public have no right to access any of the land as it is all private so that has to be a big win. 3. Within the area to be developed (30 acres) 64% is to be open Green space ( 37% being public). Around 25% of the land in Reading Borough will be designated open or play space, with cycle and footpaths planned to connect the new open spaces to the land in South Oxfordshire that is within our site. 4. Preservation of the Historic woods, 2 allotments, lots of good ideas on tree planting (orchard) which can doubtless be developed. 5. A mysterious “leisure use” on a relatively small area at the bottom left of the planned public space, they would not provide details (clearly commercial discussions ongoing) 6. The plan includes an expanded / relocated health centre (as big as Lidl it was said) with flats over (which seems a bit odd). The way I heard it this has been developed with the local health centre and is significantly larger than the current one, however there seemed to be lack of clarity as to whether they local health centre would staffing it (i.e. can the surgery get the staff). We have noted in discussions with other developers that the Care Commissioning Group can be difficult to engage with to generate positive support for additional Health Care Facilities – in the centre of Reading we understand they say to developers “not required”. 7. Traffic. The undoubted transport pressure points were clearly identified on the maps of Reading and there was and explanation about what would have to be done to “mitigate”. The particular problem is along Kidmore End Road which, because of residents parking on one side of the road, is effectively allows just a single lane of traffic at a time. This will have to be addressed to make this scheme deliverable. Looking more widely in the centre of Reading there are now around 30 schemes at different stages of the planning process or are being built which will add over 7,000 new homes if taken to fruition and there is not a single new health facility nor any changes to the road infrastructure. Also the constant grumble about brownfield developments in Reading is “not more flats”. People want new homes to be built, just not in their backyard! The land to build houses in Reading is very scarce and so, frankly something, has to give. The locals Keep Emmer Green are naturally suspicious about the developer’s intent and don’t trust it not to plot to build on the rest of the site (in Oxfordshire boundary) once the first part is under way. The suspicion about developer’s motives is a national one. I think everyone can understand the need for new homes, but in this case it seems to be “not next to me thanks.” The committee will review its approach over the coming week. A very negative article by Berkshire Live is HERE.