Fears over impact of project for 1000 flats in Reading

In March this year, the owning company of the Reading Station Shopping Park in Vastern Court, Aviva Life & Pensions, won approval for the site to redeveloped with new apartments, facilities and commercial space.

The decision was made by Conservative ministers within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

But the project was controversial, with Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee and a planning appeal inspector appointed by the government both arguing it should be refused.

Furthermore, there are concerns that the multi-storey buildings would tower over surrounding terraced homes and neighbouring businesses.

These concerns have been raised by Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East, who said: “I am writing to ask your advice after the Secretary of State granted permission for a series of large blocks of flats on a site on Vastern Road, Reading.

“This decision overruled the previous decisions by Reading Borough Council and a planning inspector, which had both decided not to grant planning permission for this application.

“The site on Vastern Road is out of keeping with the traditional Victorian architecture of the area near Reading station, which consists of a number of traditional terraced streets, local shops, the Moderation Pub and EP Collier Primary School.

“If the development goes ahead there will be a significant difference between the scale and massing of development on one side of the road and the other and between the site and the other side of Caversham Road, which forms its western boundary.

“I appreciate that a decision has been made by the Department, however I wondered if there was a right of appeal, or a process to review the decision.

“I realise this is an unusual request, however there are currently a very large number of large new flats being built in Reading, leading to some substantial changes.”

Mr Rodda asked whether there are any rights of appeals or ways to overturn the decision.

The letter was addressed to Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire and a housing minister at the DLUHC. It was written shortly after the decision was made, and before the general election was called on Wednesday, May 22.

Last month, Reading Borough Council launched a bid to overturn the government decision in an application to the High Court.

The Reading Chronicle has asked the court and the council for further details on whether the High Court challenge has been accepted or withdrawn.

The project for the Reading Station Shopping Park was for outline approval, meaning furthered detailed planning applications are required.

Approval of the project was one of the last decisions made by DLUHC headed by Michael Gove, the Conservative MP for Surrey Heath, who stepped down as an MP ahead of the general election set for July 4.

Mr Rodda is standing as the Labour MP candidate for the new Reading Central constituency.

He faces Dave McElroy, the Green candidate, Henry Wright for the Liberal Democrats, Raj Singh for the Conservatives and Andy Williams for Reform UK.

Michael Turberville has launched a campaign as an Independent.

Mr Rowley is running to retain his seat in North East Derbyshire.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre