New plans for Greyfriars church centre as costs deemed unaffordable

New plans have been submitted to transform a church in the town centre and will be voted on next week.

Plans for a new modern three-storey church centre next to Greyfriars Church on Friar Street with a roof top garden were approved in March 2020.

But the church has since deemed the plans unaffordable and has now submitted new designs, using cheaper materials.

READ MORE: New building next to Greyfriars Church gets Reading Borough Council approval

Greyfriars still wants to demolish and rebuild the church centre, adjacent to the Grade I listed 14th century church, but now wants to change some of the materials used on the exterior of the building.

It says it cannot fund the new building with the currently approved pallet of materials and, even with the revised material pallet, fundraising will still be required.

Other elements of the design have also been changed to save money.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: The approved plansPICTURED: The approved plans

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: The new plansPICTURED: The new plans

RBC planning officers believe the amendments to the materials and design of the church centre building result in a “drop in visual quality of the scheme” compared to the previously approved plan.

However, they say the proposals are “still a significant improvement when compared to the existing church centre building” and demonstrate a “good standard of design and use of high-quality materials”.

They have recommended the plans be approved.

New pictures show the difference in the design.

Before and after slider

When Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee previously approved the plans last year, the plans were praised.

Councillor Emmett McKenna, chair of the committee, said he is happy that the current “architectural monstrosity” will be replaced.

The plans were also backed by conversation organisations including Historic England and Reading Civic Society.

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And Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, said: “I am pleased to see the Historic England support and now that of the Civic Society as well. I agree with both their sentiments.

“I prefer the use of the light materials which I think would be less impactful than if the building was darker. The replacement of the existing building will only enhance the area.”

Greyfriars Church, completed in 1311, is said to the most complete example of Franciscan-architecture in England in use as a church and is one of six Grade I listed buildings in Reading.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre