A ‘fine Edwardian house’ in west Reading has been saved, after a developer’s appeal was rejected by a planning inspector, it was announced this week.

The application to demolish 39 Brunswick Hill and replace it with a 10-apartment building was initially rejected by Reading Borough Council (RBC) on March 7, 2018.

Developer Eric Benjamin appealed to planning inspector Patrick Whelan, who dismissed his case on November 14.

Richard Bennett, Reading Civic Society (RCS) chair and Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CAAC) deputy chair, said: “RSC is delighted that the planning inspector has rejected the developer's appeal against RBC’s decision to refuse their planning application.

Mr Bennett objected to the original application, along with councillor Karen Rowland (in her previous role as CAAC chair) at a planning applications committee meeting earlier this year.

He said, if the appeal been successful, it would have led to the demolition of a “fine Edwardian house” and the construction of a “bulky uninspiring development of 10 apartments”.

Mr Bennett added: “It is assuring to read that the planning inspector agreed with our position. We hope that no further such application will be submitted and that an alternative future is developed for this property.

“This is the second application to demolish this building in the last 20 years and both have been firmly rejected. Let us hope it is the last.

“We do understand that the owner’s need to downsize however we totally disagree with a solution which involves demolition.”

The inspector described the existing house, built in 1906, as having well detailed architectural elements and exuberance of scale which distinguishes it from its Victorian neighbours.

He concluded that the benefit of the provision of ten flats would be outweighed by the cost of a lost heritage asset.

Councillor Karen Rowland, deputy chair of the planning applications committee, said: “I am very happy that the inspector determined that the building was of value to the streetscape of Bunswick Hill.”

She said the street’s special value had been under threat from three factors: a walkway for Reading West train station, the state of its street lamps and the application at 39 Brunswick Hill.

RBC’s planning applications committee has now rejected the walkway. The CAAC and the council will work together to try to save the street lamps.

RCS will now apply for the building to be added to RBC’s Local List of Heritage Buildings.

The house’s first occupant was George Parsons, who ran a ‘steam horticultural works’ business at 217-19 Oxford Road, specialising in green houses. vineries, garden seats and conservatories.