Hundreds of neighbours have slammed plans to build 45 council flats as “planning vandalism” in an area plagued by “rats the size of cats”.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) are consulting on plans to build 45 social housing flats by the three high rise blocks of flats on Wensley Road in Coley Park.

A petition has been signed by almost 650 residents who are opposed to any new properties being built on this site and have requested the council find a more suitable location.

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Paul Krykant, who lives at 212 Wensley Road, called the proposal “planning vandalism”.

He said: “This is green land used by hundreds of residents who are otherwise confined to flats.

“They are talking about increasing the number of parking spaces but I am not sure how that is going to happen.

“This is a very high-density area. We have had a huge increase in the number of houses in the area but no increase in local services.

“When we have got a rat infestation and sewer problems it is not a good area for further development.”

Anthony Maxwell lives at Wensley Court, one of the three tower blocks called the plans “awful”.

He said: “The parking is a nightmare as it is. If they put more in it is going to be horrendous. It is going to be ridiculous.

“They are pushing more people into a silly amount of area.”

Neighbours at Riversley Court, another of the tower blocks, have been plagued by “rats the size of cats”.

The council said there has been a substantial reduction in the number of rats around the Coley flats in the last two months and it is continuing to tackle the remaining rat activity.

Laurence Griffiths, who lives at Riversley Court, said the rat situation “has improved but the rats are regenerating again.”

He said of the development plans: “The council are trying to take up the green spaces and the trees that have been there for 150 years.

“We want green spaces where children can play, places where people can sit down and education facilities.”

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Nick Fudge, a Conservative candidate at May’s RBC local elections, said 80 per cent of people on the Coley estate object to any housing development.

He said: “The proposals and RBC’s refusal to listen to residents’ views has angered and upset many residents.

“This site is already over-populated with a population density of 135 properties per hectare – ‘already’ 15 above RBC’s ideal limit.”

The council has disagreed with this view, but a spokesman said officers would determine whether the site is over-populated at the planning stage.

The proposal will focus on providing houses for overcrowded families and modern play facilities for children and there will be additional parking spaces and upgraded bins, according to RBC.

While some residents have called for the flats to be built elsewhere, the council say no other scheme can now meet the timetable for Homes England funding.

RBC also said it does not intend to remove any trees as part of the housing development apart from two diseased trees which may have to be taken down for safety reasons.

Work is currently ongoing to replace the water distribution system and install sprinklers at the three Coley high rise blocks.