A Reading pub-turned-community hub has been granted permanent permission for its current use.

Another interesting decision in this week’s planning roundup is the withdrawal of an application to transform an historic stonemasons site into housing.

Other planning decisions made this week include a former florist becoming a religious teaching centre and a refusal of a two-storey house in Tilehurst.

READ MORE: Reading's New Beginnings receives £5,000 from The Cadbury Foundation

Pub-turned-community-hub granted permanent stay

A community hub for homeless people and those in poverty at a former pub has been granted permanent approval.

The former Queens Arms pub, on Great Knollys Street, was given temporary permission in October 17, 2017, to change the use of the pub into a café with an ancillary shop.

This permission was due to end on October 17, 2020, but Reading Borough Council (RBC) this week granted permanent approval for the current use.

New Beginnings Reading, a local homeless charity, has turned the old pub into a community centre an all-night café, night shelter for the homeless, community fridge for distributing free food to those in need and an after-school Café offering meals, clothing, and support for parents and children.

The charity aims to prevent and relieve poverty and financial hardship in Reading and the greater Berkshire area.

The all-night café and shelter for the homeless are currently closed until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity is looking for new volunteers for its community fridge food bank and clothing service.

You can express your interest here.

Nine-home plan at historic stonemasons site withdrawn

Plans to demolish historic stonemasons buildings and replace them with nine homes have been withdrawn after receiving complaints from neighbours.

AF Jones Stonemasons wanted to demolish the buildings and structures at 33 Bedford Road and build a seven-flat building in their place, as well as transforming an office building into a three-bed home and one-bed flat.

The application was opposed by 18 neighbours, who said the development would have a detrimental effect on “already strained” local parking and block light from reaching nearby properties due to its height.

They also said the design is out of character with the local Victorian architecture.

Family firm AF Jones Stone Masons has occupied the site at the junction Bedford Road and Battle Street since the mid-1860s.

As the business has expanded, various workshops and storage buildings have been constructed on the site to meet the increasing demands of the business.

But the company moved most of its works to a new home in Wallingford in 2014 due to the limited access to the site and the Bedford Road site is now mainly functioning as an office.

AF Stonemasons wanted to relocate the staff to its larger premises and redevelop the Bedford Road site into homes but have now withdrawn their application.

The company has been approached for a comment.

Former florist will become Islam teaching centre

A vacant former florist in Whitley Wood will become an Islam centre for religious teaching and guidance.

The council approved plans this week for charity the Al-Majid Welfare Trust, to turn the former shop at 581 Basingstoke Road, into a religious centre.

Previously hosting Georgie’s The Florist – which is now based on Burghfield Bridge Close – the shop is currently vacant.

The Majid Welfare Trust has been holding religious teachings at the Northumberland Community Hall, on Northumberland Avenue, since 2004.

As all the events take place in the community hall, the trust said it is “always up against time restraints” to cater for the community as others have the hall booked after them.

The shop will be converted into space for religious activities for up to 15 people, but Friday prayers will not be held at this location “as it is not large enough”.

RBC's environmental health team had raised concerns about noise levels and the impact on nearby residents, such as those living in the flats above and in neighbouring properties.

In response, Mr Clayton said the walls and the ceiling will be adequately sound-proofed in excess of building regulation requirements to protect the neighbouring properties and no music will be played at the premises.

The building will be used from 6am to 10pm on weekdays, 8am to 10pm on Saturday and 8am to 9pm on Sundays.

Two-storey house refused

Plans to build for a two-storey house in the garden of another home in Tilehurst have been rejected by the council.

Neighbours had raised concerns about loss of privacy and light and the preservation of protected trees.

Council officers said the developer due to concerns about:

  • Whether protected trees would be retained
  • The lack of a positive contribution to the character of the area due to its bulk and poor design
  • Proposed gates which would obstruct the public highway
  • Lack of outlook, light and outdoor space for potential future occupiers
  • Impact on privacy, light and the overbearing visual dominance on neighbours’ properties

READ MORE: Plans to extend a different property on Oak Tree Road were approved last week

Plans to turn three flats into five withdrawn

An attempt to turn three flats in Caversham into five has been withdrawn after concerns were raised by neighbours and a local residents association.

The plans on Westfield Road included two-storey rear extensions as well as expanding the roof.

The Caversham and District Residents Association raised concerns that two of the proposed flats would be below national minimum space standards and a large proportion of one of the flats would be below head height.

Concerns were also raised by about the increased bulk and height of the building and the impact on neighbours’ light.