Student block at East street refused

Reading Borough Council has refused an application to build a 4 storey block of 103 student flats on the East Street car park in Katesgrove.

The council thought that the bulk and form of the proposed building was unsympathetic to the Market Place /London Street conservation area, and that traffic generated at the beginning and end of terms would cause a safety hazard.

The proposal had been amended from the original; from 5 to 4 storeys and from 116 to 103 units, and with a bicycle storage plan.

Katesgrove councillor Rose Williams said that the proposed development occluded the backs of historic buildings on London Street, including RISC’s famous roof garden.

“It’s a great pity that just because there’s a space there, somebody assumes the best thing they can do is build on the car park,” she said. “There doesn’t seem to be any need for student accommodation in the town at the moment. Even if this was an application for family housing, I would be disappointed, because this is a sensitive area.”

Although he agreed with the refusal, Councillor Ed Hopper, said that dedicated student accommodation relieved pressure on the private rented sector. He added that the proposed development couldn’t be seen from the attractive parts of the conservation area and only occupied a soon-to-be disused car park surrounded on two sides by modern office blocks, not a green space.

“I wonder whether anything would be acceptable there, from comments made by Councillor Williams,” he added.

Councillor Tony Page repeated planning officer’s criticisms of the development’s bulk, boxiness and use of materials. He referred Councillor Hopper to Bourne-Stevens Close (pictured below). “What would be acceptable [here] would be a repeat of the family housing and flats we have opposite.”

Councillor Page said that the proposed rent in the student flats was about £235 to £260 per week. “You are not going to get students flocking from HMOs in Redlands and Abbey wards into this accommodation, because they are paying £100 to £150 a week [currently].”


  1. Planning application 170019
  2. RBC planning committee, 31 May 2017 papers and webcast
  3. Reading conservation areas