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.

4 Comments

  • Alastair Blakey

    Are there any details on car parking? (I had a look at the multiple, incomprehensible, planning documents, and couldn’t see any).
    I agree with your points, and think that there’s a further point to make: more parking means more cars.
    The nearby roads are already swamped, and Reading Council have lost their minds if they think they can just dump more traffic on them. This development, and the two (sfaik) nearby should not include _any_ parking spaces. If that makes them unattractive for development, the Council will need to address the gridlock issue.
    If any of these developments go ahead with any parking, I’ll be voting against councillors who voted “for”.

  • Bell Tower Community Association

    According to a letter sent out by the council to people that commented on the last iteration of the application there would be 94 parking spaces on the site. Our impression is that the councillors aren’t keen on the development either but they would need sound planning grounds to vote it down, which we’re not sure whether they have. Otherwise the chances are that if refused it would have a good chance of being approved on appeal, with the net result that all it’s done is delayed the approval and spent our council tax money on lawyers.

    • Alastair Blakey

      Thanks for the reply, and parking details. Strange, that Councils have such mercilessly unbending power over individuals, but are so weak against the property development companies who so distort costs in what isn’t a well-functioning market.

      Delaying the approval, demonstrating public unhappiness, seems better than rolling over in defeat?

      Please add my voice to your objections to the scheme.

  • bet tickner

    I agree with your reservations against this development, especially if it provides no affordable housing, when it it needed most in the town centre.

    It also appears not to feature any architectural value, just a big block, like the monstrosity at the far end of the station.

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