A major town centre development will be extended to 335 homes after councillors were won over by a “substantial” increase in affordable housing.

Lochailort are currently building the 315-home ‘Thames Quarter’ build-to-rent development on Napier Road which will now increase by 20 flats.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee unanimously approved the revised plans last night (Wednesday, September 6).

The latest scheme includes a “substantially improved” affordable housing provision – all off-site – which would increase the currently agreed 18 per cent contribution to 30 per cent.

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Councillor Karen Rowland: “We are seeing a taller building but officers have done a fantastic job in mitigating that. It is a double commendation.

“That 30 per cent makes me feel really good. We really need to be bullish about that.

“We have developers coming in all the time that are not achieving that.”

The council rejected developer Lochailort’s first “excessive” extension proposal at a meeting on April 26 which aimed to increase the build-to-rent development by 23 flats.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, said: “If the applicant had undertaken the level of discussions in recent months a bit earlier we might have overcome the previous difficulties.

“I think these changes make this a more acceptable scheme.

“We have a proposal that delivers policy compliant affordable housing; that does weighs considerably.”

Lib Dem Councillor Ricky Duveen added: “It is always pleasing to see policies being met.”

All 30 per cent of the affordable housing will be off-site at two ‘surrogate sites’ with 101 homes in total.

Councillor John Ennis, lead member for Housing, also praised the 30 per cent affordable housing secured.

He said: “We cannot rely on the government. We must be strong, vibrant and robust in negotiating for affordable housing.”

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Green councillor Josh Williams questioned how the twenty extra flats has led to such a big increase in affordable housing.

Councillor McKenna, chair of the committee, said the council had some leverage and commended officers for using it.

Conservative councillor Simon Robinson said his one major concern is the number of car park spaces.

He said: “That particular road is very busy and I am concerned there would be issues with parking if there is no suitable provision at the apartments.

“Three disabled spaces for 300+ apartments seems very low.”

But case officer Brian Conlon said the provision – 49 car park spaces and 335 bicycle spaces – is deemed acceptable by RBC’s transport department.

Cllr Page called Cllr Robinson’s view “old-fashioned” and said there are bicycle spaces, a car club and sustainable transport links nearby.

The revised scheme also introduces grey cladding to parts of the multi-tower building which Cllr Page said is a “welcome change”.