Newport Road Street Party 2019

Saturday 6 July 2019 – and time for another street party! The weather was perfect this year, and a great time was had as always. We had live entertainment from the New Hope Gospel Choir again and for the young ones dance instructor Jo Wright did one of her Wiggle-Waggle sessions. This year’s quiz was hosted by David and again featured some local knowledge, with prizes provided by the Standard Tandoori. Many thanks to everyone who helped and the residents of Newport Road for hosting. And special thanks to everyone at New Hope for organising the children’s activities, and to the Moderation for the delicious free barbecue and Thai food.

Lamp posts upgraded at last!

Addison Road residents will notice a small and long-awaited change. SSE contractors visited today and have started to upgrade the street’s Victorian cast iron lamp posts to take LED lanterns after a long campaign to save them.

As well as a new lantern the lamp posts are being fitted with a new swan neck and a small isolating bollard nearby. We understand that they are due to be repainted soon as well, and the remaining cast iron lamp posts in York Road and Newport Road are due to be refurbished this summer.

All the cast iron lamp posts in Addison Road were made in foundries in Reading, some of which were by the Thames right next to our area. These lamp posts are likely be originals from about 1900 when the street was built – after refurbishment we look forward to seeing them working for many more years to come.

New plans exhibited for housing in Vastern Road

Berkeley Homes are planning to build nearly 200 houses and flats at the former Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) site in Vastern Road. The plans would also include a direct walkway and cycle lane linking Vastern Road with Christchurch Bridge.

The developer is looking to demolish a number of buildings on the site and replace them with homes including blocks of flats which could be as high as 11 storeys.

Revised plans for the former site of SSE in Vastern Road were shown at an exhibition on Wednesday 8 May. The developers have taken into account feedback from the last exhibition in February, including making the way through from Christchurch Bridge to Vastern Road easier to navigate, giving the development more of a ‘wharf’ feel and lightening the view of the development from the river using yellow brickwork.

The developer is looking for feedback before a planning application is submitted to Reading Borough Council later this year.

The draft plans can be viewed online and comments can be made at www.vasternroad.co.uk.

Planning application submitted for post office site

An outline planning application has been submitted for redevelopment of the former Royal Mail site in Caversham Road. ‘Reading Metropolitan’ will contain around 650 flats, along with community space and a possible health centre.

The tallest building will rise to 25 storeys and will be next to the north entrance to the station, where it will face a new station square. The building has the potential for retail units at ground floor level.

The flats will include studios as well as one, two and thee bedroom units and there will be some affordable units. In addition to the apartments there will also be a small number of town houses at ground level.

A community centre is planned towards the Caversham Road side of the scheme, and this may include a dental practice and GP surgery. There will be a number of basement parking spaces across the development.

Details and the opportunity to make comments can be found on the council’s planning website at planning.reading.gov.uk/fastweb_PL/detail.asp?AltRef=182252

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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