This week’s planning roundup of the most interesting decisions made in Reading includes the transformation of offices into 16 flats and controversial plans to demolish a home and build four in its place.

Offices will become 16 flats

Offices in west Reading will be transformed into 16 flats despite concerns from current business tenants at the building.

The transformation of offices at 42 Portman Road into flats was granted this week under prior approval legislation, which allows certain changes of use without the need for planning permission.

Tenants such as Age UK expressed concern about the plans, saying they have long leases at the building but the council said proposals cannot be refused for this reason under the prior approval legislation.

READ MORE: Coronavirus testing stations planned at Reading hospital car park

Councils can only dismiss a prior approval application for a limited set of reasons, such as noise, contamination or flooding concerns.

The office building is on the northern side of Portman Road, with the rear backing on to Albury Close.

Demolition plan refused after 23 complaints and MP involvement

Plans to demolish a two-storey house in west Reading and build four in its place were refused this week.

The plan on Riley Road in west Reading was rejected after 23 residents slammed the proposal, raising concerns over:

  • Loss of a well-used open space
  • Insufficient parking
  • Road safety
  • Impact on the natural environment
  • Impact on access for emergency vehicles
  • Privacy concerns for neighbours
  • Noise from intensified use of the site

Reading West MP Alok Sharma and Tilehurst ward councillor Ricky Duveen also raised concerns, while the council’s ecology team said the plans would have “an unacceptable adverse impact on the adjacent Lousehill Copse, a local wildlife site,local nature reserve and priority habitat”.

The owner wanted to demolish the existing two-storey house, garage and fencing and build four new homes and a garage.

READ MORE: Traveller site expansion plan 'inappropriate' says neighbours and parish council

The rear garden would have been divided into four private gardens with sheds and there would have been eight car parking spaces.

Officers concluded that, while the development would provide suitably designed homes, the negative aspects – loss of the privately owned undesignated open space and the impact on the street scene – outweighed the benefits.

Office transformation into flats

A three-storey office building on Oxford Road will become six flats.

The building, located on the north side of Oxford Road just east of Caversham Road, will become five one-bedroom flats and one two-bedroom flat.

The plan was also granted under prior approval legislation.

Bookies to become offices

Coral, a chain bookmakers or betting shop on Norcot Road, in west Reading, will become offices after the plan was granted by the council under the same prior approval legislation.

And finally…

A  decision on whether to approve a new 150-space car park at Mortimer Station was deferred by West Berkshire Council, with the Planning committee asking for more information.

Read more here on why: Councillors delay decision on 150-space car park