Development plans at Reading’s fine Edwardian house refused for SIXTH time in THREE years

A cherished ‘fine’ and ‘fabulous’ Edwardian house in Reading has been saved once again, for the SIXTH time in THREE years.

The council has rejected attempts to turn the house at 39 Brunswick Hill, near Reading West Station, into flats in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and planning inspectors have now done the same.

A government planning inspector this week rejected an appeal by the homeowner against the council’s decision in June, replicating decisions from two previous inspectors to refuse planned developments on the site.

READ MORE: ‘Fabulous’ Edwardian house saved again

Richard Bennett, chair of Reading Civic Society, said: “This is a terrific decision. The house and garden whilst large are not enormous and would be suitable for a family home or a HMO.

“We have sympathy for the owner, whose family have moved away and he now finds the house too large for his needs. He has maintained the building well and it is a terrific house, close to the station.

“This is no reason however for it to be adversely treated in the ways which have been proposed over the years. We of course now wait to hear what the owner and his agent propose to do next.”

The homeowner wanted to convert the “fine” and “attractive” villa on Brunswick Hill into eight flats, adding two-storey side extensions and three-storey extensions at the back of the house.

But councillors rejected the plan, saying the villa is “perfectly large enough” to convert into flats in its current form.

The rejection of the latest proposal at 39 Brunswick Hill follows plans which involved demolishing the house and which were also rejected both by the council and by planning inspectors.

Councillor Karen Rowland, lead member for Heritage at Reading Borough Council (RBC), said the building is “fabulous” and the views onto it are “stunning”.

And planning inspector Heather Langridge, explaining her decision to refuse the plan, said the main issue is “the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the building and the wider area”.

She said the building is already one of the largest on the street and its scale is part of the character but the addition of the “disproportionate” rear extension would “overwhelm” the building.

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Ms Langridge also said the depth of the building would “jar” with surrounding residential properties.

The building is not listed and has been rejected for inclusion on the council’s local list due to a lack of information on its history, Cllr Rowland.

But Ms Langridge said: “Nevertheless, I concur with previous inspectors that it possesses more than sufficient architectural significance to warrant its treatment as a non-designated heritage asset.”

The latest application to develop 39 Brunswick Hill is the eighth in 31 years, with three coming in the last three years and the others in 2005 and 1989.

This was the first proposal that did not involve demolishing the building.

Reading Chronicle