The University of Reading’s (UoR) appeal for an 836-home application to be approved in east Reading was rejected today by a government inspector.

The appeal was heard in March after Reading Borough Council (RBC) rejected the application to develop an additional 654 rooms at St Patrick’s Hall, Northcourt Avenue, in February 2018.

Planning inspector John Wilde said the main issues were the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area and whether the proposed development would preserve the setting of Pearson’s Court.

He concluded that ‘the harm that has been identified and the consequent policy conflict outweigh the benefits of the proposed scheme, substantial as they are’.

Simone Illger, Chair of NARA, who attended and gave evidence at the appeal, said: “The original planning application, followed by the appeal process has created a great deal of additional work for the residents association over the past two and a half years.

"Our regular activities and work to support the local community and protect this neighbourhood have had to take a back seat.

“A small team of local residents dedicated a great deal of time and effort preparing for the inquiry.

"Despite being up against top legal planning experts, the team were able to produce compelling evidence.

"It’s satisfying to see that the inspector acknowledged many of the objections raised by the NARA team in his decision notice.

"NARA hopes that the University will engage fully with local residents in any future plans for the site.”

RBC and Northcourt Avenue Residents' Association (NARA) both said they support re-development of the site but not at the numbers requested by the university, with NARA calling for a limit of 500 rooms.

Cllr Page, lead member for Planning, said: “We are pleased the inspector has now upheld the council’s concerns and agreed that the harm of the proposal outweighed the benefits."

In dismissing the appeal, the inspector decided that the proposal would have an adverse effect on the townscape of the site and on Northcourt Avenue.

A  UoR spokesman said: "We are disappointed with the decision to reject the appeal over the redevelopment of St Patrick's Hall.

“We are studying the decision of the planning inspector in detail before considering our options.

"We will continue to work with our neighbours, the council and our accommodation partner UPP on future options to improve and expand our student accommodation.

“Good quality accommodation is important for the experience and wellbeing of our students, and we are aware of the impact that student housing, both on and off campus, has on the local community."