Bell Tower Community Association

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

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

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

Since publication of this article Papa Gee’s restaurant has moved to Prospect Street, Caversham.

Take a look at our area’s history

As with many older areas of town, the Bell Tower area has plenty of history. We’ve been doing some delving into our area’s heritage and have found out plenty.

Do you remember St Paul’s Church, which stood where New Hope is today?

You may have read about the proposed ‘Foundry Quarter’ development for the Wickes and Iceland site in Weldale Street, but our area’s where many of the foundries were around the turn of the century, producing parts for the railways and items such as our old cast iron lamp posts.

Caversham Road has a rich industrial history – Warricks, for example, made ‘stop me and buy one’ tricycles, and Bucklers made sports cars.

And then there’s E P Collier School (originally Swansea Road Board School) – did you know that its architect also designed several pubs and hotels, and the Cox & Wyman works?

We’re always keen to hear from anyone who remembers the area from years ago – perhaps you have some old photos or stories that you’d like to share? Please contact us at if you are interested.

Here are the three presentations given at our recent ‘History in our backyard’ event – we hope to have more local history features soon:

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New development for Wickes and Iceland sites

Plans for a £120m redevelopment of the Wickes and Iceland sites in Reading town centre will be unveiled this week.

An exhibition at Greyfriars Church on Thursday 9 February will be a first look at the planned transformation of run-down units on Weldale Street into The Foundry Quarter.

The Wickes site is at the centre of the proposed development of 429 homes and shops, public space and walkways by Crossmark Developments on behalf of Ropemaker Properties.

Everyone is invited to view the plans at the church in Friar Street on Thursday 9 February, between 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

This article originally appeared in Getreading.

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