The council said their reasons for refusal included:
- an overbearing bulk that dominated the terrace houses on Mount Pleasant,
- a lack of parking facilities that would result in congestion on a busy road,
- inadequate waste collection facilities,
- damage to nearby trees.
Two local residents also objected, saying that proposal’s lack of parking space was going to lead to unauthorised parking on nearby private estates as well obstruction on the highway, and that the huge new building was going to loom over nearby terraces and reduce privacy in their gardens.
The developer’s agent said the scheme was “no-car” and students would be expected to use other means to get to and from the building, and that the existing building already loomed over nearby gardens in a manner more intrusive than the proposal. He added that purpose built student accommodation would release some of the town’s terrace housing, currently used by students, for other purposes.
Councillor Ricky Duveen said that the “barrage of windows facing the garden [of a neighbour] was somewhat overbearing as it’s even taller than the existing building.”
Councillor Jason Brock disputed that the scheme could really be “car free” since students would have to be moved in and out, and friends and relations would visit.
The council had commissioned a housing study last year which had concluded that Reading had no need of more student accommodation, said councillor Tony Page. He added that he was concerned the recent “tsunami” of student development applications would just furnish the town with “slums of the future,” although current council policy did not permit the refusal of an application because there is no evidence of demand.
“I thought the design was quite good compared to some of the designs we’ve seen for properties similar to this,” said councillor Ed Hopper, who went on to say that the bulk of the new building was his main reason for refusal.
“We don’t have a policy on need,” he continued, referring to councillor Page’s concerns about the demand for student housing, “and I’m not certain it’s the role of the council to tell developers they can’t build something they think there’s a need for.”
- Student development on Silver Street may be rejected
- Planning application 161805
- Planning applications committee 8 March 2017 – papers and webcast