Watch our heritage walk on video

The annual Heritage Open Days event is back. Last year we organised a guided walk around the streets of the area exploring our history and architecture, and we’re repeating this on 11 and 18 September. However, with the coronavirus pandemic we’ve had to limit numbers, and we realise that inevitably the walk will be fully booked in no time.

The good news is that we’ve made our walk virtual! You can watch our 20 minute documentary that follows the walk and explores some fascinating local history, scenes from the past and the area’s wealth of Victorian architectural features. We hope you enjoy it!

We hope this inspires you to dig out your old photos and tell us your stories of life in the area in the past – we’d love to see more pictures of scenes from the past and maybe even make another documentary next year. Please contact us at info@bell-tower.org.uk if you can help.

Join us for our Heritage Open Days walks

Our area has lots of fascinating history, and this year we are organising heritage walks around our area in September as part of Heritage Open Days. The walks will take place on two Friday mornings and will last about an hour.

Entitled ‘Caversham Road: An area shaped by Victorian aesthetics and innovation’, the walk will take in much of the area’s Victorian industry, showing signs of what remains and pictures of local scenes from the era. We’ll also be looking at some of the original Victorian architectural features that survive to this day.

Further details and booking at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caversham-road-an-area-shaped-by-victorian-aesthetics-and-innovation-tickets-64750256761. Please note that because of Covid-19 restrictions places will be strictly limited to 4 per walk so prior booking will be required.

These walks get booked up quickly. We are still keen to offer another opportunity to local people that were unable to get on to one of the Heritage Open Days walks – if you are interested please email info@bell-tower.org.uk.

We’ve also made the walk into a 20 minute documentary – you can watch this here:

Brewery applies to extend licensing hours

The Phantom Brewing Co. in Meadow Road has made an application to extend its licensing hours. The application is to extend its hours for selling alcohol as follows:
Wednesday-Thursday: 1700 to 2200
Friday: 1500 to 0000 (midnight)
Saturday: 1300 to 0000 (midnight)
Sunday: 1300 to 2000.

We believe that the premises are generally popular and well-managed, but residents may be concerned, in particular, about the application for an extension to midnight and the possible additional late night noise in quiet streets. If you have any comments on the application please address them to licensing@reading.gov.uk. The deadline for representations is 3 August 2020.

Updated proposals for post office site

Hermes, the company that owns the former post office site in Caversham Road next to the railway, has put in amended proposals for its outline planning application for redevelopment of the site. The tallest tower would be reduced by 9 metres and one storey, and there would be less residential accommodation and more office space.

The Bell Tower Community Association has always had serious concerns about the proposals for this site, and while a small decrease in height of the tallest tower is welcome (although we believe it is still too tall), in our view most of the updated proposals do not represent an improvement.

In particular we believe that the increase in office space will be unnecessary given the current trend of increased remote working, and the complete loss of affordable housing is to be deplored. It should also be borne in mind that planning permission is currently not needed to convert office space into residential units – so we can foresee conversion to low-quality accommodation with no contribution to local infrastructure when it is found that the office space is undesirable.

There will be a small increase in the number of 3-bedroom units, but one of the blocks will also lose communal outside space.

We are therefore going to be objecting to the proposals, and see little benefit to them. To view the amended plans and make comments please visit planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=182252. The deadline for comments is 30 July.

Retail park site plans submitted

An outline planning application has been submitted for the retail park site containing Aldi, The Range and TGI Fridays.

Owners Aviva are looking to redevelop this site for housing as and when leases run out on units in this retail park. Initial plans and feedback form at www.rssp.co.uk/. As well as a large number of flats, plans include a hotel, pub, offices and leisure faclities.

We are starting to look at the details and will provide more information when we have had more time to study the plans.

The planning application has now been submitted and comments are invited – this is at www.planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=200328

Cox & Wyman site construction plans published

The long-awaited demolition of the former Cox & Wyman printing works has begun.

Three Bell Tower members had the opportunity to visit the empty site and take photos before the main demolition started, providing a basic historical record of the interior of the original Victorian building and some of its features and signs of its history.

Work has started from the Addison Road end with the small building on the corner of Meadow Road and the Victorian façade, and will move towards Milford Road. It is understood that demolition will be finished by early April and construction is expected to start in May.

The developer has recently submitted a construction plan to the council – this can be downloaded from planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=200092. The plan shows the build starting with a temporary access road from Meadow Road and building the Cardiff Road terrace, a few show homes at the bottom of Addison Road and the lower floors of the flats first. The main terrace in Addison Road and townhouses near the centre of the site will be built later when the access road from Meadow Road is complete.

The lime tree in Addison Road near the corner of Meadow Road will be kept but the developer has applied to remove the other protected trees and replace them.

The new estate is being built on the site by Bellway Homes, and will consist of 48 houses, mostly terraces along Cardiff Road and Addison Road, and a block of 48 flats near the western end of Meadow Road.

1 2 3 15