Plans to begin the demolition of Reading’s last remaining gas tower this week have been rejected by the council.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) approved plans to demolish the landmark Gas Holder No.4, on Alexander Turner Close in east Reading, which overlooks the River Kennet, and build 130 flats last November.

Developer Danescroft had sought approval from the council to begin the demolition of the gas holder today (October 6) and said the demolition works would be finished by April 26, 2021.

READ MORE: Reading residents raise concern about health impact of gas tower demolition during Covid-19 pandemic

But the council has told developer it is not able to approve the demolition at this stage until it gets more re-assurance about the safety of the works.

RBC has asked the developer to first carry out a risk assessment and put measures in place to prevent the spread of any contamination.

It says Danescroft must submit a detailed scheme for the management of contamination during demolition works and says this must be written by a “competent qualified person”.

Details of the measures proposed for control of dust, dirt and other airborne pollutants during the demolition works are also required, as well as measures for controlling noise and pests.

The developer must also explain how all of these measures take into account the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic, with nearby residents likely to be spending more time in and around their homes and gardens.

Some residents had called for the plans to be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lisa Applin, of School Terrace in Newtown, said: “Please do not take the gas tower down now, as we are heading into winter and Covid numbers are on the up. I am concerned about the dust and contamination.

“Both my young son and myself suffer from asthma.”

Zoe-Anne Baldwin, an Erleigh Road resident in east Reading, added: “Tearing down the iconic and historic Newtown gas tower is not an appropriate course of action during the current global pandemic, especially coming into the colder months when we could have a spike of Covid-19 cases with a school nearby.

“If you must demolish it, please consider doing it at a later date when the situation is more stable.”

RBC has also asked Danescroft to carry out and hand over a formal photographic archive of the gas holder, after this was requested by Roland Smith, an archaeology officer at Berkshire Archaeology.

Mr Smith said: “It is the last surviving gas holder from the former Reading Gas Works, the last surviving gas holder within Reading and it is a landmark structure within the town.

“As part of Reading’s industrial archaeological heritage, it merits a photographic record prior to its demolition.

“There are many existing images of the structure but these are in disparate collections whose long-term curation is not guaranteed.”

READ MORE: End in sight? Latest on council's £1 million accounts fiasco

Other tasks the developer will need to complete before the council agrees to the demolition include:

  • Demonstrate how trees will be protected
  • Commit to no loading/unloading or parking of any construction vehicles on the surrounding road network
  • Provide details of the size of vehicles that would serve the site during the demolition works