Reading Borough Council (RBC) planning applications committee have approved a revised proposal for a development of 54 studios for students on the site at 79 Silver Street.
Katesgrove councillor Rose Williams said [at 1:21:40] “I can see that most of the objections that we had in March have been covered… [but] I can’t bring myself to vote and say that I am happy for this to go through… it just isn’t fair.”
The owner of the adjacent house on Mount Pleasant addressed the committee about her objections to the current proposal. Ownership of the boundary wall between the two properties was disputed and it was to be demolished as part of the development. The structural impact of demolition on her property was also unclear and of concern. She questioned whether there was a need for more student accommodation and raised parking and traffic problems that the studios would create.
The planning consultant for the developer stated that the evidence supported the association of the wall with the 79 Silver Street property and that a surveyor would be appointed to look at the impact of the demolition of the wall if planning permission was granted.
Members of the planning committee asked questions of the objector and developer to explore a resolution to concerns surrounding the boundary wall, although in itself this was not a planning matter.
Rose Williams raised the issue [at 1:11:24] of sites on the opposite side of Silver Street where, despite planning permission having been granted, work had not started blighting the area. She asked “if you were to get [the] planning application granted would you get on with job… rather than leave the site to sink to its knees?”
On behalf of the developer, the consultant said [at 1:12:05] that work would start as “soon as practicable” and the commitment of his client to Reading was supported by their acquisition of 40 Silver Street on the opposite side of the road.
Councillor Tony Page [at 1:12:40] questioned the need for high standard student accommodation of this type.
RBC planning policy on student accommodation could change in the future. The draft New Local Plan includes a presumption against building more student accommodation unless the need can be proved:
H11: STUDENT ACCOMMODATION
New student accommodation will be provided on or adjacent to existing further or higher education campuses, or as an extension or reconfiguration of existing student accommodation.
There will be a presumption against proposals for new student accommodation on other sites unless it can be clearly demonstrated how the proposal meets a need that cannot be met on the above sites.
The committee felt that as all the reasons for refusal of the original application had been dealt with there were no planning grounds for refusal and granted the application. It was thoroughly analysed within a 45 minute period of a lengthy planning applications meeting of over 150 minutes.
- Reading Borough Council planning applications committee 19 July 2017 papers and webcast
- Developers try again with 79 Silver Street
- Planning application 170685
- Reading Draft New Local Plan
- Second Appeal on Woodley Arms development dismissed