A new modern three-storey health centre will be built in Whitley Wood after plans were approved last night (October 7).

St. Paul’s Church and two neighbouring houses on Whitley Wood Lane will be demolished and replaced with a health centre, church centre, community space, café, and two flats.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications committee unanimously approved the plans on Wednesday.

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Councillor Rachel Eden said there is a lack of GP services in the area and the plan “will benefit the community which really deserves extra healthcare provision”.

While councillor Jane Stanford-Beale said “it has been a long time coming”, with a growing population and “a lot of old not-fit-for-purpose buildings” in the area.

Councillor Emmett McKenna, chair of the committee, said the public benefits of the development easily outweigh the few aspects that are “not ideal”.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma had also backed the plan, which he said will provide much needed primary care facilities in the area, in a letter to the council.

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The new church building will 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 and 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.