A vacant dental surgery and a building behind it will become 21 “stunning” flats.

Developer Rose Hill Commercial Estates will partly demolish the façade of 43 London Street, creating a taller frontage to match the buildings next to it.

Rose Hill will also carry out works inside the building and demolish the two-storey building behind it.

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Three flats will be built at 43 London Street with another 18 built in the new “mews style block” at 43a London Street.

Labour councillor Rose Williams called the proposal a “stunning piece of architecture”, adding “the sensitivity of the site and area has been taken on board”.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee approved the plans last night (Wednesday, February 5).

Affordable housing concerns put off one councillor

The proposal was praised by all councillors on the committee and got the support of all but one member.

Lib Dem councillor Ricky Duveen called the new front façade design a huge improvement on the current frontage and said he was “really taken with” the development.

But he hit out at the lack of affordable housing planned at the site and said he could not support the proposal on that basis.

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Rose Hill submitted a viability assessment to show why it could not afford to provide on-site affordable housing and will instead pay an initial £100,000 contribution.

The developer could potentially pay more than this, but only if the development reaches a value over £6.6 million

“Horrifically out of place”

The plans were criticised by three neighbours and the owner of a neighbouring property ahead of the meeting.

Stuart Parker called the plan “horrifically out of place” in comments ahead of the meeting, while Edward Richardson, another neighbour, said the proposal would negatively impact the character of the surrounding area.

But local conservation groups submitted last-minute comments ahead of the meeting to support the application.

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Evelyn Williams, chairman of Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said the proposal is a “positive” development for the site.

Richard Bennett, chairman of Reading Civic Society, said the group was impressed with the design and does not have objections to its height.

Number 43 London Street is sandwiched between two taller properties either side, both of which are Grade II Listed.

Though not listed, the building (together with Nos. 45 to 47) is designated as a Building of Townscape Merit.

Number 43 was last used as a dental surgery and has been vacant since 2016.