A couple have successfully won planning permission at the FIFTH attempt to build flats next to an east Reading home.

Mr and Mrs Dillon can now demolish the existing garage next door to 42 Bulmershe Road and build a three-storey side extension in its place with three one-bed flats.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) planning applications committee approved the plan on Wednesday (February 5) after neighbours withdrew their objections.

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The Dillons’ first application in 2006 – for a rear extension and conversion from a house to four self-contained flats – was successful and built out.

But their four subsequent applications to add more flats all failed to get the go-ahead from RBC.

Their fifth effort has satisfied council officers and, after initial objections, got the approval of neighbours at 38 and 36 Bulmershe Road.

Sophia Bowlby, who lives at 38 Bulmershe Road, said: “The reduction of the footprint of the building, the lack of windows overlooking number 28 and the rear communal garden make the plans more acceptable.”

Some features of the proposal still concern the neighbours “significantly”.

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Neighbours asked for the garage to be demolished by professionals with appropriate qualifications.

They also asked for small shrubs to be planted along the wall shared with number 38, as well as planting in the new communal garden area to make up for the loss of green space.

Green councillor Josh Williams said: “Residents do still have some concerns. They are really just asking that they be a good neighbour.”

The council have included conditions to make sure these requests are met.

“Harsh and uninviting” and “incongruous”: A history of plans at the site

In 2010, they applied to extend and alter the home to add an additional five self-contained flats.

This was rejected due to its “incongruous” design and lack of space for future occupiers.

A year later, they applied to build a three-storey building with five self-contained flats at land next to the current building.

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This proposal was dubbed “harsh and uninviting” and thrown out for failing to respect the established building line.

After a five-year break, the Dillons made a third attempt – in March 2015 – to add more flats to the site, applying to a build a three-storey building with three 2-bed self-contained flats.

This was withdrawn in July 2016.

A fourth application came in later that year in November.

That application – to build three chalet bungalows with basement accommodation next door – was also refused because of its height and “overbearing” proximity to 38 Bulmershe Road.

Fifth time is a charm

The Dillons were not to be deterred and came back with a fifth application in March 2018, to demolish the garage next to the current building and

A number of issues were raised with the applicant and the Dillons made changes to the plans, which eased neighbours’ worries and won councillors over this time around.