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.

New ward boundaries proposed

Ward boundaries and councillor allocations are under review in Reading. Since the town’s population has been increasing faster than the national average, it has been proposed that the town will have two extra councillors, bringing the total to 48; to accommodate the new council seats and even out ward populations the ward map will have to be redrawn. Abbey ward, in particular, is projected to grow to over 50% more than Reading’s average ward population by 2025 because of the proliferation of new developments.
Our area could end up in a new Thames ward (unrelated to the existing ward with the same name); most of this ward would be the area between the main railway line and the Thames, with a small part of Lower Caversham and the area around Kenavon Drive. The Bell Tower Community Association is broadly in agreement with the proposal, as it groups together areas of similar character.
The consultation for the proposed boundaries is now open – details of the new boundaries and the opportunity to make comments are at consultation.lgbce.org.uk. The deadline for submissions is 13 April 2020.

First plans for Carters land published

An application has been submitted for terraced housing in Swansea Road and Northfield Road – this would replace the derelict buildings in Northfield Road and the ‘Mast-Co’ building in Swansea Road. The plans feature a ‘coach house’ in Swansea Road with an archway to a private car park at the back.

Our initial impressions are that the developer has made an effort to produce a terrace reasonably in keeping with the existing street scene, and we would therefore be supportive of the plans.

No plans have been submitted yet for the wider Carters site area including the car workshops and the shop, and we will be watching out for more information. More detail will no doubt follow, and we are expecting in particular to resist anything excessively tall.

The application can be viewed at www.planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=191924

First car charging points for the area

Reading Borough Council has installed fifteen electric vehicle (EV) charging points on lamp posts on public roads in Reading. As part of this scheme two new charging points have been installed on lamp posts in Caversham Road.

The lamp posts were selected after the council’s Go Electric public consultation in 2018, when the council asked EV owners or potential purchasers in Reading if they would like a charging point on their street.

33% of Reading’s households live in properties with no off-street parking and this makes EV overnight charging difficult. The council has successfully bid for an air quality grant from DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to install charging points on such streets. The lamp post EV chargers use the lamp’s own electrical supply and will cost 30p per kilowatt-hour to use.

There is a longer list of the new EV charging points in Reading online and a map of EV charging points. We expect the new charging points will be added to the map soon.

Cox & Wyman demolition expected to start in November

The film set storage company has now left, and the former Cox & Wyman site is now empty. We have been given an update by a representative of Bellway Homes, who now own the site.

Contractors have been visiting the site in the last few days to do surveys for asbestos – what they find will of course affect the demolition programme.

At the moment we expect demolition to start by the end of November. Access will be via the entrance in Meadow Road until a new roadway can be built off Milford Road – this will probably be in early 2020 as it will require moving a BT fibre optic cable, which will take time to arrange. Demolition is expected to take 12 weeks.

96 units – 48 houses and 48 flats – will be built according to the existing planning permission granted in May 2018. Bellway expects to have the first houses ready for occupation in late 2020, with construction complete by the end of the year.

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 Saturday afternoons and will last up to 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

The walks are now both fully booked. We are still keen to offer another opportunity, probably in October, 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.

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