Take a flask of tea and your knitting

The next Reading Borough Council (RBC) Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee meeting on Wednesday 21 November has a packed agenda, so it could be a long evening. Papers include the revelation that student numbers at Reading University are expected to increase by 31% by 2028.

The papers for this meeting are a staggering total of 335 pages of reports and other documents, ranging from those of general interest to specialist and technical papers.

Planning

The headline acts are four planning items and of most local significance is the progress on Reading’s new local plan.

The Whitley Pump previously reported on the various stages of the plan which aims to set out the future development of Reading up to 2036. Public examination of the plan has now been completed and the government inspector’s report is awaited.

The examination process produced a shock for RBC when they discovered that Reading University plan to increase student numbers by 5-6000, or 31%, by 2028.

The report going to Wednesday’s committee states:

This intention had not previously been articulated to the Council, and would clearly have very significant implications, not only in terms of student accommodation, but also on a whole range of issues. Officers set out their strong concerns about this level of growth.

The inspector requested that the council and the University produce a ‘statement of common ground’ dealing with this and other matters. This document will be made available on the RBC local plan examination webpage when completed.

Other planning items relate to the approval of the Hosier Street Development Framework, adoption of a revised conservation area appraisal for St Peters (Caversham) and approval of the draft Palmer Park Development Framework for consultation.

Environment

The air quality update includes a mention of the electric charging points initiative ‘Go Electric Reading‘ and an update on measures taken against vehicle idling.

Reading’s annual carbon footprint report for 2017/18 shows a continuing decline in carbon emissions relating to the council’s own activities.

Transport

There is a mixed bag of transport reports covering gritting and other winter service arrangements, pavement and road inspections for potholes, ongoing cycle network route extensions, and investment in improvements to the Cattle Market car park.

The Whitley Pump has previously featured on the welcome news that Alpine Street is to retain its grit bin this year. The committee report gives lots of detail about how the council’s winter service plan works. Gritting of road surfaces has already taken place on extremely cold nights this year.

The curiosity of this pack of committee papers must be that relating to the Cattle Market car park. The council plans to invest £523,000 of a grant from the National Productivity Investment Fund in improving the 90 space car park on Great Knollys Street.

The scheme involves improved drainage, lighting, security and carriageway surfaces to replace the very low quality facility currently offered at the car park.

This is one of the car parks managed by NCP until the beginning of October this year when RBC took back control. The report says that the car park is underused and, after the improvements, an additional £100,000 per annum of income is expected ,which must be good news.

The committee meeting will take place at 6.30 pm on Wednesday 21 November at the Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU and is expected to be webcast.


Links
  1. RBC Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee 21 November 2018 papers & webcast
  2. Council wants to install vehicle chargers in residential streets
  3. It’s official – Alpine Street grit bin to stay!
  4. NCP partnership with Reading Borough Council will end in October
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