Bell Tower Community Association

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.

Reading’s draft Local Plan includes developments for our area

Reading Borough Council has been developing plans to help guide future developments up to 2036. The plans set out how the council will tackle the need for substantial new development over the next two decades, including up to 700 new homes each year.

The former Cox & Wyman works in Cardiff Road is included in the plan (labelled WR3a on the map), with a proposal for between 70 and 110 new homes on the site, and this development is likely to start within the next 2-3 years.

Included for the first time is the area incorporating the Manrose Manufacturing factory in Meadow Road and the Ayres Removals site at the end of Ross Road (WR3b), which is also earmarked for housing. There is also a proposal for more housing in Richfield Avenue (WR3c) and another (not shown on the map) for housing on the Carters site off Caversham Road. These three sites are unlikely to be developed in the short term.

The council is looking for comments on the proposals – the complete draft plan, supporting documents and instructions for giving feedback can be found at www.reading.gov.uk/newlocalplan.

The deadline for comments is 5.00pm on 14 June.

(Map courtesy of Reading Borough Council)

Flats proposed above former bike shop

A planning application has been submitted to the council for change of use of 163-165 Caversham Road, the former Caversham Bridge Cycles shop, along with a ground floor extension to the shop.

The proposal shows a conversion of the upper floors to three flats. The shop area will be retained and extended to the rear.

Details and an opportunity to comment can be found on the council’s website at planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=170491.

Local surgery in special measures

Priory Avenue Surgery in Caversham has been placed into special measures after being deemed inadequate by healthcare watchdogs. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised Priory Avenue Surgery staff for being unable to provide knowledgeable and effective care. Circuit Lane Surgery in Southcote was placed into special measures at the same time.

Ruth Rankine, deputy chief inspector of General Practice, told the Reading Chronicle: “Patients were at significant risk…we will return in due course and if satisfactory improvements have not taken place we will not hesitate to use further enforcement measures.”

Staff displayed a lack of knowledge and experience at Priory Avenue, while CQC inspectors identified a significant backlog in patient correspondence.

Both affected surgeries are run by OneMedicalGroup, whose chief executive Rachel Beverley-Stevenson said: “The team have been working hard to make positive steps to improve the service and there has been a notable improvement in patient satisfaction and those who would recommend the surgeries to friends and family.”

CQC inspectors found a number of areas where both practices were failing, including patient interaction, staffing levels and learning from complaints to ensure improvements were made.

 

The street party’s back! Saturday 17 June

We are pleased to announce the date for our street party this year – Saturday 17 June, starting at 1.00pm – and we hope to hold it in Newport Road again if residents agree. As in previous years we are choosing the Big Lunch weekend because this is our opportunity to apply for a street closure without having to pay the usual fee.

We had live music for the first time at last year’s street party, along with a drumming workshop that many people enjoyed. We hope to have more live music this year, along with another music workshop, and are still looking for more musicians that would like to join us and perhaps play on the day – please get in touch if you are interested.

Would you like to help us? We always need extra helpers, whether it’s for putting up bunting, setting up the tables, organising activities – whatever you can help with we’d be delighted to hear from you. If you’d like to set up a small stall that would be great too – we just ask for a small donation if you are a commercial organisation.

If you would like to help or have any suggestions please contact David on 07890 118167 or by email at david@bell-tower.org.uk.

The end of Papa Gee’s? Budget hotel planned for Caversham Road

Plans to convert the Rainbows Lodge in Caversham Road into a super-budget easyHotel have been submitted to Reading Borough Council. The hotel would have 53 rooms, some of them windowless, and the existing Papa Gee’s restaurant would be converted into rooms.

Booking can only be made online, rooms are just big enough to accommodate a bed, housekeeping services are extra and there are no tea and coffee making facilities in rooms.

Full details and the opportunity to comment on the proposal can be found on the council’s website at http://planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=170366.

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