Heritage Views – March 2018

Page 5 August 2018 – LOGO.

Assessment of significant Views with Heritage interest

Supporting the Draft Local Plan

Reading is a modern, vibrant and successful town and the economic centre of the Thames Valley. It has seen substantial change in the 20th century and has challenges to rise to, and meet in the 21st century in terms of housing, economic potential, infrastructure and quality of life. It has a strong built heritage and a visible history which goes back some 900 years.

The work of the CAAC in respect of community led Conservation Area re-appraisals began to identify certain views which were important to the town but not directly within Conservation Areas and which were not otherwise sufficiently valued or protected. This led to discussions between Reading Borough Council and the CAAC about carrying out a Views study to raise awareness of the merits of these views to inform future decision making. These discussions coincided with the start of the preparation of the new Reading Local Plan.

A number of potential views were put forward by the CAAC and considered by RBC. The Planning Policy team came to the view that a new policy ‘EN5 PROTECTION OF SIGNIFICANT VIEWS WITH HERITAGE INTEREST’ was justified. The CAAC agreed to provide a study of each of the views that were selected to provide a basis of evidence and analysis. The initial report was submitted in January 2018, after taking into account feedback from RBC the final version, which may be seen in the flip book below,  was submitted in March 2018. The studies have fed into, and are supporting, the finally agreed Local Plan.

The document may also be downloaded HERE.   The agreed views document

The View studies seek to add to the understanding of the town’s cultural heritage, its landscape and its historic assets. They are an evidence base to help and inform all those involved with sustaining both the town’s history and its future. Hopefully they will also contribute to the enjoyment of those who experience these views as part of their daily lives.

The studies makes use of the methodology and format of the ‘ Oxford View Cones Study ‘ developed by Historic England, the Oxford Preservation Trust, Oxford City Council and others to provide a sound methodology to identify the special quality of views. This was applied to Views in Oxford in 2015.

Recent Posts

Station Retail Park development plans submitted

Station Retail Park Development (the TGI Fridays/ ALDI/ Majestic Wine Warehouse site), Caversham Road / Vastern Road. Application for Outline Planning Consent now submitted.

The initial design for the development which will run along Vastern Road and Caversham Road.

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.

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