The iconic gas holder in east Reading will be demolished and replaced with 130 "prison-like" flats.

Plans to turn the landmark site, on Alexander Turner Close, into 130 flats were approved by Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee last night (Wednesday, November 13).

The development is a three-building complex, with a nine-storey building, a five-storey building, and a two-storey building.

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70 people objected to the plans at the site by Kennet Mouth, raising concerns such as the loss of the landmark, the “overbearing” and "prison-like" design of the flats and the impact on wildlife in the area.

Speaking at the meeting, neighbour Dan Shockley said: “This is not opposition to development on the site but we need sustainable developments that not an embarassment to the town.

“Nine storeys is way too high for the area.”

Reading Chronicle:

Joseph Jones, who lives in Redlands, said the number of flats should be reduced in line with the new local plan.

The new Local Plan was adopted on November 4 and includes a recommendation to build 40-70 flats at the site.

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Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, said the suggestion in the local plan was only indicative and the  actual development limits depends on viability.

He said more flats were needed to make this development viable because of the contamination on the site and the cost of removing the gas holder.

Four councillors voted against the plans –  Cllrs Simon Robinson, Paul Carnell, Josh Williams and Ricky Duveen – with 10 voting in favour.

Reading Chronicle:

Cllr Robinson (Conservative) said he “cannot accept the over bearing 9 storey block b building” and would have accepted an application with all buildings at 4 or 5 storeys.

Cllr Williams (Green) commended the design but questioned the doubling of flats compared to the Local Plan recommendation.

He said the site is a” landmark in east Reading and of heritage value” but agreed it needs to be replaced.

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Councillor Karen Rowland (Labour), lead member for Heritage, said she understood concerns about the height and density of plan but said this amount of housing is needed for the development to be viable.

The 33-metre high gas holder was built in 1916, replacing an earlier Gas Holder that had been on the site since the late-19th century.

The site is currently owned and operated by Southern Gas Network (SGN), but the gas holder is no longer in use.

Gas holders became increasingly obsolete since the mid-20th century and the gas holder in east Reading was decommissioned in 2008.

Reading Chronicle:

Cllr Page said a gasholder park, like in Kings Cross, was looked into but was found to be not viable.

The development will include 15 affordable housing flats, which is 12 per cent of the total.

The developer and council also agreed that RBC will take a 50/50 share of profit beyond 18.7 per cent of gross value.