A 135-flat student development at a disused car park was approved this week, despite the council previously rejecting a proposal with 32 less rooms.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) rejected a smaller proposal at the site on East Street in May 2017 which Studious Development Ltd successfully appealed to the planning inspectorate.

Planning committee members decided rejecting the expanded proposals would lead to another loss at appeal and so ‘reluctantly’ approved the latest scheme, subject to s106 agreements at the planning committee on Wednesday, April 3.

Councillor Jason Brock said the standard of the accommodation would be ‘quite poor’ and the site ‘would have been a fantastic site for more affordable housing in Reading’.

He ‘reluctantly’ accepted the development based on the planning inspectorate’s decision.

Councillor Josh Williams disagreed.

He said: “We have the right to make up our own minds. I do not think we have agreed with every appeal decision.

“It did not get this committees approval and I don’t think it should get it for a larger one.”

But councillor Jan Gavin responded: “We have to be a responsible planning authority. It would be foolish to ignore the planning inspectorate.

“We have lost a lot of money through going through the appeals process. We have thrown it down the toilet to make a point.”

The plan was deferred at the last Planning Applications meeting on Wednesday, March 6, so that members of the committee could conduct a site visit.

In a public consultation, 14 letters of support were received based on the need for student accommodation in Reading and benefits to the area. No letters objecting to the plan were received by the council.

Councillor Karen Rowland said the expanded designs, despite including an extra storey, are not significantly different from the appeal scheme approved by the planning inspectorate.

Planning officer Matt Burns recommended the development be delegated to the council’s head of planning for approval, subject to a S106 legal agreement.

Councillor Chris Maskell concluded: “All things are against us. We lost the appeal. We have to base our decision on the report provided by officers.”

East Street is a five-minute walk from the university’s London Road campus.

The first scheme for 103 student flats was refused in May 2017 because of the domineering nature of the planned building, concerns over flooding and vehicle delivery safety, and a failure to complete a legal agreement for an Employment and Skills Plan.

Inspector Simon Warder ruled the developer had provided sufficient evidence regarding the flooding and vehicle delivery safety, and the legal agreement.