Planning and the Civic Society Role

Updated 14 February 2018

General Guidance on Planning 

To reach Reading Council’s Planning Website follow the link Reading Borough Council’s Planning Website.

From here you can make Applications for Planning Permission,  Listed Building Consent and Building Control Applications.

You can also view all applications that have been made, enter any comments that you have “On Line”, and monitor the progress of applications.

We wish to encourage people to be aware of and if appropriate comment on applications which may affect them.  It is just as  important to make POSITIVE comments if you support an application as to raise any concerns.

Guidance on the Planning requirements

You should always take guidance from the Reading Borough Council Planning Website and the Planning Portal. 

If in doubt about whether your project requires Planning Permission you should make a Pre-Application via the Planning Portal as this enables you to seek a planning view without having to raise a full planning application.  Should it subsequently prove necessary to seek full planning permission the feedback from a Planning Officer will enable you to be clear about the requirements and to ensure any questions are fully covered in the Planning Application.  This can thus save time.

A booklet about the Planning Process is now posted to all who make a planning application;  http://planningguide.co.uk/reading. This is a commercially produced product with generic Planning information and Reading “branding”.   It is in a very accessible format which you may find useful but you should always verify what you read with the information on the Planning Portal.

Work to Listed Buildings

Work to Listed Buildings may just need Listed Building Consent if the works are not complex (e.g. replacing cast iron guttering with new cast iron guttering,  rebuilding a listed wall to the original specification with lime mortar).  An application has to be made via the Planning Portal.  Further information is provided on Listed Buildings page of this site.

The role of the Civic Society

The Society regularly reviews new planning applications and sends comments to Reading Borough Council’s Planning Department on any controversial issues. We have spoken at Planning Committee meetings and contacted English Heritage, the Planning Inspectorate and the Department for Communities and Local Government. We have made lengthy comments on Structure and Local Plans and participated in public inquiries.

We have also supported local residents in preparing comments on proposals that affect their neighbourhood, especially as they impact Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings or Locally Listed Heritage Assets.

We have contacted the Planning Enforcement Officer if we spotted changes being made to Listed Buildings and buildings in Conservation Areas which appear to be inappropriate and being undertaken without appropriate consents.  See also the section on Listed Buildings.

Where changes are proposed to buildings or locations of historic interest, the Society takes a pragmatic stance: we do not expect these places to be preserved in aspic, but are keen to ensure that they have a practical use that generates funds for their maintenance, while preserving the features that make them special.

Earlier campaigns we have supported include the safeguarding and restoration of the Town Hall and its Concert Hall, and the preservation of the Prospect Park Mansion House.

 

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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