Show us your blooms!

Our gardening competition is back! This is an opportunity to beautify your home and possibly win a cash prize – all you need to do is cultivate your front garden and let us know.

Tell us about your window box or hanging basket – there is a chance to win prizes of £50 (first prize), £30 (second) and £20 (third).

To give us all a chance, local gardener Bob Murrant, whose legendary front garden in Cardiff Road has won several awards, has kindly agreed to be one of the judges.

If you wish to enter please let Barbara at 77 Addison Road know. The closing date for entries is 30 June, and judging will take place in July.

Pay & Display proposal for Northfield Road

The council is proposing to convert the short stay parking areas in Northfield Road to pay & display bays, with charges of 70 pence for 20 minutes and a 3 hour maximum stay.

We understand that this will have been discussed at the council’s traffic management sub-committee on 8 March 2018 and are currently waiting to hear the outcome.

Bell Tower supports the ‘Love your Lamp post’ campaign

Did you know that our area has more than 20 old cast iron lighting columns? Most of these are the original fluted pattern that dates from Victorian times and carried gas lamps, and these columns were all manufactured in Reading, many of them by two foundries close to our area – Samuel Griffith in Vastern Road and H C Goodman by Caversham Bridge where the Peter Brett Associates building is today.

With the advent of LED street lighting the council is considering scrapping all these columns, and Bell Tower residents are taking part in a town-wide campaign to save them, as they can be converted to take LED lanterns. The good news is that the council have agreed to undertake a structural survey of all the remaining cast iron columns to determine which ones can be saved and we should hear more in January – but so far there are still no guarantees that any of these will be kept.

Look out for decorations on these old columns during the festive season that have been put up as part of the ‘Love your Lamp post’ campaign. To find out more about this town-wide campaign and how you can show your support please visit bell-tower.org.uk/lampposts. Don’t forget to leave a message of support!

The strange case of the mystery building

A new building has been rapidly appearing on the Cardiff Road skyline whose purpose is so far unknown.

A long grey shed-like structure is being built on the railway embankment behind the Reading Drive-in Centre in Cardiff Road, near the bollards where the road is closed to through traffic.

We have examined the train depot plans from 2010, which show enough space for a building on the embankment but no plans for anything there – so as far as we can tell no kind of planning application or notification has been made for it.

Cardiff Road residents have alerted the council’s planning enforcement team, who are pursuing this with Network Rail but have so far had no response to their enquiry. As well as being overlooked by the new building, residents are also concerned that a new door has appeared in the acoustic fence which makes the train noise, already at unacceptable levels, worse when it is left open. Residents have also been hearing additional noise from heavy machinery in the area.

Since this article was written the council planning officers have had a reply from Network Rail. The building is a plant room for effluent extraction from train toilets. Council officers are looking into whether they can take enforcement action.

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. If you have views on the proposal, please take the oportunity 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.

This application has subsequently been withdrawn.

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