An “insulting” application to build four houses in east Reading described as “civic vandalism” has been roundly rejected by the council.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee rejected the application to build homes at 45 Upper Redlands Road on Wednesday (July 17).

Forty seven local households objected to the application on the undeveloped garden land in Redlands Conservation Area.

Resident David Cooper slammed the consultation as “confusing, contradictory and wrong”.

Another resident, Mike Thomas, said the council’s climate emergency underlines the importance of maintaining the gardens rather than building over them.

He said: “Opposing the application is fundamental to the wellbeing of the community.”

Councillors raised concerned about the impact of the development on Grade II listed Wantage Hall, as well as the loss of historic garden space and walls around the existing Victorian villas.

Green councillor Josh Williams added: “These are the gardens of the original buildings. The pictures of the ordinate survey map since 1877 are still the same.”

He said it would be a “tragedy” to change that and Reading would lose part of its history.

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Redlands councillors Tony Jones and Jamie Whitham spoke to the committee to express their opposition to the development.

Labour’s Cllr Jones said: “It would be an absolute act of civic vandalism. If we grant these failed attempts at pastiches, you may as well declassify this area.

“These matchboxes are an insult to those who live there now and might want to in the future.”

Cllr Whitham, of the Green Party, agreed.

He said: “In February the council declared a climate emergency. We have limited opportunities to protect our green spaces. This is one of them.”

Andy Meader, the developer’s agent, said the applicant appreciates the concerns of residents and has worked hard to listen and the development would respect the character of the area.

But Labour councillor Karen Rowland flatly rejected this.

She said: “It does not preserve the conservation area at all”.

Conservative councillor Simon Robinson agreed: “It does nothing to enhance the conservation area. I think it actually takes away from it.”

The application was deferred at the June 26 meeting to enable a member site visit to take place.

Councillor Emmett McKenna, chairman of the committee, added: “I am wholly unconvinced of the suitability of this development.”

Committee members agreed to reject the development unanimously for ‘many and varied reasons’ to loud applause.