Plans for a modern three-storey health centre, which would see a church and two houses in Whitley Wood flattened, could be approved next week.

The proposal seeks planning permission to demolish St. Paul’s Church and two neighbouring houses on Whitley Wood Lane, replacing them with a new church centre, community space, café, two flats and a GP surgery.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee will vote on the plans next Wednesday (October 7).

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Council planning officers said the plan would provide “enlarged and enhanced” community facilities and a health centre, which would meet national and local policy objectives.

The site of the proposed development includes two houses, one of which has been “for a significant period as it is uninhabitable”, according to the church, as well as a single-storey church and a church hall.

Officers said the loss of two family homes and replacing them with two one-bed flats is “not wholly compliant” with the council’s planning policies, but the benefits “far outweigh this limited policy infringement”.

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The new church building would include two halls, a chapel, a community café, a downstairs office and two one-bed flats.

Church services would take place in the chapel or main hall, with many other activities taking place in the two halls, such as:

  • Mencap
  • Play Barn
  • Youth groups
  • Children’s parties
  • Saturday school

The GP health centre would be located behind the proposed new church centre and will replace South Reading surgery on Whitley Wood Road and the closed Whitley Wood Lane surgery.

It will help to cope with the thousands of new patients expected from developments in the catchment area, according to developer the Parish Council of St Paul’s Church, and breathe new life into the community.

The number of patients in the area is expected to increase by around 5,000 once housing developments within the catchment area completed.

The catchment extends from southern parts of Reading to Swallowfield to beyond Grazeley Green to the west, beyond Sonning to the east and up to the outskirts of Winnersh and Wokingham.