Celebrating our area’s character

The Bell Tower Community Association has been working on getting a special designation to reflect the area’s Victorian character. We are pleased to announce that we have been able to get a stage further with this recognition.

Many towns, particularly in south-east England, have Local Areas of Special Character (LASC) or similar designations; examples of these are in Kingston, Woking and Croydon. These areas are not quite eligible to be designated as conservation areas but have a character that is considered worth preserving.

At present Reading does not have any such areas, but we have now succeeded in getting the council on board and have helped draft a formal planning document that councillors will consider later this year.
We hope the LASC document will be adopted by the council into its planning policy, at which point two areas will initially be proposed for LASC status – the Caversham Road area, which includes the Bell Tower area, and Northcourt Avenue, near the university. It is likely that further areas will be suggested later.

When an LASC is proposed an appraisal document is submitted describing the character of the area.
While this has less statutory weight than a conservation area appraisal, the LASC appraisal provides a useful reference document for planning officers when considering applications in the area and nearby, to help determine whether a proposed development is in keeping with the area’s character. For example, planning officers might ask for computer-generated views of a proposed large-scale development from viewpoints in the LASC which might otherwise not be required.

We have also been working on an LASC appraisal document for the Caversham Road area, and hope to provide an update on the progress of this project later this year once the council has agreed in principle to the introduction of LASCs in Reading. In the meantime here is a presentation given by Bell Tower member Mary Neale on LASCs and the area’s Victorian character.

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