‘Excessive’ plans to increase a 315-home central Reading development were refused by the council last night.

The 315-home site on Napier Road is currently being built, but the developer was looking to add extra storey and 20 flats, amended from 23 in last-minute revised plans.

The council did not consider the revised plans, however, with officers saying they came too late.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) officer Steve Vigar said the proposal should be refused because of the visual harm of ‘excessive height and bulk’.

Richard Stainthorpe – representing Reading Civic Society (RCS) – and Gillian Irvine – representing Kingfisher Place Management Company – also opposed the application at the meeting.

Ms Irvine called the plans ‘overbearing’ on the neighbouring Kingfisher Place. She said the development would also impact on sleep.

Mr Stainthorpe said RCS backed the approved plans but the new application is a ‘detrimental step’, which ‘removes the elegance’ of the approved plans.

The applicant said the increased storey would raise the benchmark tower to same height as No 1 + 2 The Forbury and was ‘simply matching the height of neighbouring buildings’ on the recommendation of regional experts.

Councillor Page, lead member for Planning, said Mr Haig had solely used the Forbury Place buildings as a reference, excluding everything north of the site.

He said the proposed height ‘is too tall’ and higher buildings in the surrounding area sit on higher ground.

Cllr Page said the applicant should have discussed its plans first with the council in a pre-application process.

He said: “Why do you think you are above pre-application?”

Applicant Hugo Haig hit back: “You said the most important thing in this borough was to provide affordable housing.”

He said Cllr Page had suggested to him in private that adding an extra floor could be a way to increase affordable housing on the site.

Cllr Page responded: “Affordable housing is critically important but developments have to have acceptable design and affordable housing doesn’t trump all other issues.”

The lead member for Planning concluded: “Excessive scale will be apparent. That is the crux of the problem.”

‏ Councillor Karen Rowland added: “There has to be a limit. You can’t just put up any old thing. It sounds minor but the difference from what was proposed before tips the balance.”

The proposal was unanimously rejected by RBC’s Planning Applications committee last night (Wednesday, April 24).