Councillors are bemused by an inspector’s decision to allow a developer to demolish a vacant pub.

A government planning inspector approved plans to demolish Battle Inn, on the corner of Oxford Road and Bedford Road, and build six flats but added an “unusual” condition.

The condition requires drawings showing the detailed design and final appearance of walls and roof to be submitted by the developer and approved in writing by the council prior to development.

But Reading Borough Council (RBC) believe such details are fundamental to considering whether a development should be approved and therefore do not think the inspector should have approved the appeal with such a condition.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, said: “I cannot recollect an appeal decision when an inspector has upheld an appeal and then said there are element of it that are not satisfactory.

“If he was not happy with the drawings that would have been a reason for rejecting the appeal.

“This is an important issue and one that puts us in a difficult position.”

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Councillor Karen Rowland, lead member for Heritage, said: “I am concerned that there are still elements that the inspector did not put to bed.

“I was not very happy with the manor in which the review was done.”

Cllr Rowland said herself and cllr Page both wanted to speak at the hearing but were unable as they could not make the time specified for speaking.

In his decision, Mr MacLeod said redevelopment of the vacant site would enable improvements to the site’s current poor appearance yet asked for the final designs to be approved by the council.

Chair of the committee councillor Emmett McKenna said it seems very wrong that the inspector wants different plans and yet has overturned the council decision.

Planning officer Julie Williams said it is an “unusual situation” but the council may still be able to have some influence on the site’s appearance, which would be “a silver lining”.