Plans for a fish and chip shop and shared house have been given the go ahead by the council despite concerns.

Local business owner Tony Chima will transform the disused Natwest bank at 76 Christchurch Road into a fish and chip shop “or similar” with a four-room house in multiple occupation (HMO) above it.

Councillors had delayed a vote on the plans last month, after being left “baffled” by the plans.

But the application was approved last night, with only Green councillor Josh Williams opposing the plans.

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Cllr Williams said he could not find anything in the local plan that prohibits the HMO but suggested the takeaway conversion could be refused.

He said it would add another yet another takeaway to the area but planning officer Julie Williams explained there was only one other shop in the area considered to be a takeaway under planning law.

Labour councillor Karen Rowland, lead member for Heritage, said: “Unfortunately there is no ground to reject the application based on the number of HMOs in the area.”

She said neighbours “love the area and are trying to protect it” and added she is concerned about adding the takeaway to this stretch of road.

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She concluded, however, that are no planning grounds to refuse the development.

A decision on the proposal in east Reading was previously delayed after councillors and officers were left “baffled” by the Reading Borough Council (RBC) report.

Takeaway worry

At last month’s meeting, Whitley Park Lane resident Jessica Di Luccio said there are already several takeaways on this part of the road.

She said there is an obesity crisis and another takeaway will not help.

But the latest report explains that only Domino’s is considered a takeaway in planning terms in the area, not Gregg’, which is primarily a bakery, or Sizzling Spicy, which is primarily a restaurant.

Hotspot for anti-social behaviour

The nearby bus stop at Christchurch Green has reportedly been a hotspot for anti-social behaviour, with the university implementing a street warden scheme focused on dispersing students in this area.

Ms Di Luccio has compiled a dossier of anti-social behaviour witnessed by her and neighbours in the area, including Christchurch Road, over the last two years.

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Committee member and local Labour ward councillor Ruth McEwan declared an interest at last month’s meeting so she could speak for neighbours.

She said: “This is a beautiful parade of shops. Locals don’t want it to be destroyed with an increase in takeaway shops.”

Owner of the building Tony Chima, speaking at last month’s meeting, said he has many years of experience running businesses and is confident the takeaway – which would open from 11am-11pm – will be a success.

“Another HMO breaches limit”

Concern was also raised about adding another HMO to this stretch of Christchurch Road when residents spoke at last month’s meeting.

Robert Cox, who lives around the corner from the development, said many houses on the stretch of road are HMOs and another would “breach the limits”.

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The latest report states that although the proposal would “slightly exceed” the council’s threshold for the number HMOs, the property is not in an area where the number of HMOs can be controlled.

Mr Chima has a standard three-year time limit to develop the plans.