Plans to build a block of 11 flats in east Reading have been refused due to a series of concerns, including the impact on listed buildings.

The plan at 1a Eldon Road, to erect a three-to-five storey residential building and dig through the ground to create a basement worried neighbours, council officers and conservation specialists.

Developer The Faculty Ltd, already has planning permission to build seven flats on the site, granted in March 2019 despite opposition from neighbours.

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The Eldon Road site was previously home to the Mulberry House dental surgery but the building was recently demolished as part of the approved plans.

Residents have called the latest proposal even less suitable.

One resident, Nicholas Woodthorpe, said: “The design is based on Hanover House which is a sixties throwback. We don’t want another concrete monstrosity on Eldon Road, where the majority of properties are Victorian.

“The developer and architect need to be much more sympathetic to the heritage of Reading.

“This proposed development is trying to squeeze too many dwellings into such a small space.”

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Vrunda Walawalkar said the basement proposal “could ruin the character of the road” while the multi-storey building “would overwhelm it”.

She called for “a million-pound mansion” to be built instead and told the developer “don’t be greedy”.

Another neighbour, Patricia Llorente, said: “It’s disappointing to see the lack of consideration of the applicant for the area.

“It has simply decided to add to the monstrosity that Hanover House represents by proposing to erect another cheap 1970s block of flats which will look dated and out of place from the moment it is completed.”

She said the block of flats would benefit from the beautiful surroundings of the “gorgeous” conservation area but offer nothing in return other than more congestion and “visual pollution”.

Ms Llorente added: “It would be great if they built a property where someone actually wanted to live and enhanced the area, not another dated concrete beehive.”

Planning officers concluded the development would:

  • Fail to protect and enhance the setting of nearby listed buildings and fail to conserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Eldon Square Conservation Area
  • Be unacceptably harmful to trees and the character and appearance of the Eldon Square Conservation Area
  • Be visually dominating and overbearing, resulting in a detrimental impact on the living environment of nearby neighbours
  • Fail to provide sufficient affordable housing, with no contribution proposed

The council had suggested the developer enter pre-application discussions with the council prior to submitting the application but this was ignored.

The decision, which normally would have been considered at a planning meeting, was made under delegated powers agreed at Policy committee on April 27, 2020, due to the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.