Traveller camp proposed for Cow Lane

Reading Borough Council is proposing a transit caravan site for travellers on the junction of Cow Lane and Richfield Avenue, next to the Rivermead. The site would be the first of its kind in Reading, and up to 17 pitches are proposed there.

The Bell Tower Community Association has serious concerns about the proposed location, which is within the Thames floodplain and will be right next to a busy main road after Cow Lane bridges are fully opened in 2018. The site is also on the fringe of Reading’s Air Quality Management Area and would affect the visual amenity for local walkers and visitors to the Rivermead. The site could also significantly affect the Reading Festival.

Flooding in Cow Lane, February 2014

People living in Reading are asked to share their views on the scheme through a public consultation process after the first stage of the plan was passed by councillors on Monday 25 September.

A consultation process has now been started, and residents and businesses have until 24 October to submit their comments – details at www.reading.gov.uk/gypsy-traveller-provision-consultation. If you have views on the proposal, please take the opportunity to make them known to the council.

To comment on the proposal please email [email protected]reading.gov.uk or write to Planning Policy Team, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU.

Towering above us: new proposal for post office site

A planning application has recently been submitted for redevelopment of the former sorting office site at 80 Caversham Road, between the retail park and the railway.

The proposal shows a central square surrounded by several tall buildings, the tallest of which has 24 storeys and if built would be the tallest building in Reading. There are 12-storey blocks at the western end of the site, which would effectively be next to TGI Friday’s.

At this stage this is not a full planning application but a ‘request for screening opinion’, which gives the developer’s view on how the planning process should proceed. It does, however, include some plans and drawings that give an indication of the contents of a future full application.

Residents are worried about the likely effect of the tall buildings. Bell Tower secretary David Neale said: “The proposal for buildings of such height close to a low-rise residential area gives us great cause for concern. It is likely that the 12 storey blocks will overshadow houses in Northfield and Swansea Roads and the tallest block will overlook streets as far away as Addison and Newport Roads. We urge the council to require a full analysis of the effects of the tall buildings on neighbouring streets and refuse the application if any adverse effect is found.”

The planning document can be viewed at planning.reading.gov.uk – the application number is 171448. Residents can also submit their own comments on the proposal via the council’s website.

Cox & Wyman development plans revealed

The owners of the former Cox & Wyman printing works have expressed an interest in developing the site for housing, and the plans have been displayed to the community for the first time.

The ‘Printworks’ development proposal shows 96 dwellings, with 38 terraced houses facing towards Addison and Cardiff Roads, along with 10 taller town houses and a 4-storey block of 48 flats towards the corner of Milford and Meadow Roads. The main entrance is shown in Addison Road, where the old gates are currently situated.

Bell Tower broadly welcomes the development, with some suggestions for improvement including having the entrance in Meadow Road if possible, which would be more sensible if the Manrose site is also eventually to be redeveloped as housing. A residential development would make it easier to put permanent road closures in place to separate the area from the industrial estate, preventing rat running, which would probably increase when Cow Lane is widened.

The initial plan for the site and a simulated aerial view are shown below. It is expected that a planning application will be submitted later in 2017.

Sizzling in the sun: Newport Road street party 2017

Saturday 17 June 2017 – another excellent street party for the Big Lunch weekend, and with the temperature reaching 29 degrees this one was our first real scorcher!

Splat the Rat and Readipop’s drumming workshop, both favourites from last year, were back again, and we had much more live music – this time from an acoustic band from New Hope, a capella singing from the Voices of Reading community choir and an excellent set from covers band Sunday Replay. Plenty of activities for the kids with loads of help from New Hope and another fiendish quiz courtesy of David and Jonathan with prizes provided by the Standard Tandoori and Tesco.

Many thanks to everyone who helped and the residents of Newport Road for hosting. And special thanks to the Moderation for the delicious free barbecue food and Thai curry.

Residents campaign to save old street lights

The Bell Tower Community Association is urging the council to keep the cast iron lighting columns in the area, as the LED street lighting replacement programme sweeps across the town. The lights in the area are all due to be converted to LED technology in June 2017.

There are more than 20 cast iron lamp posts in the area, most of which are original Victorian gas lighting columns.

Bell Tower secretary David Neale, who has been researching the history of the lighting columns, said: “As well as being attractive, the old cast iron lighting columns are also a valuable part of our heritage, and many of them have an additional local connection, having been manufactured by foundries off Caversham Road. The area consists mostly of Victorian terraces, and has one of the largest clusters of original lamp posts in Reading. It would be a great shame to lose them.”

The association believes that the columns can be refurbished economically and fitted with new LED lights, and is happy to offer to paint them to keep them in good condition.

“In its local plan the council describes Reading as ‘a city which has rediscovered and embraced its heritage and landscape’. We hope the council will show it is in tune with the city it describes and commit to preserving our heritage,” Bell Tower chairman Jonathan Dart said.

Mr Neale added: “We think the parts to refurbish an old street light will be cheaper than installing a new column, and they are likely to last longer. We hope the council can preserve them, and that the old lighting columns in other areas of Reading will be saved too.”

We’re looking for old pictures of the foundries that made cast iron lamp posts in Reading – among these was H C Goodman next to Caversham Bridge, which was still trading as recently as the 1980s. Do you know anyone that has any pictures of any local foundries? We’d love to share them – please contact us at info@bell-tower.org.uk.

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