DEVELOPERS have been slammed by councillors for failing to provide more affordable housing at a major new residential site in Reading.

The Station Hill development, which could see up to 1,200 homes added in the town centre, will get 61 extra apartments after revised plans were given the green light last night.

This decision marks changes to phase one of the plan, which was originally approved in 2019, and will now see 599 apartments created in two new buildings off Friars Walk alongside new offices, retail and leisure units.

But only five per cent of the new homes will be made available as ‘affordable housing’, equivalent to around 20 apartments.

Reading Borough Council’s affordable housing policy states developments of more than ten homes should have at least 30 per cent affordable housing.

READ MORE: Next step of £750 million Station Hill development gets green light

Labour councillor John Ennis said: “I’m disappointed about the affordable [housing].

“One of the main focuses for me wanting to be on planning was to ensure that we glean as much affordable housing out of these big developments as possible for the people of Reading to be able to not just benefit from the development but also to benefit with affordable housing.”

Liberal Democrats councillor Ricky Duveen also hit out at the lack of affordable housing.

Station Hill designs

Station Hill designs

He added: “The reason I'm unhappy with this proposal this evening as I was when it first came, I think is the shortfall in affordable housing compared to our guidelines.

“And I think this is a shame because when developers set out to develop new developments like this, they know what our requirements are. And they, to my mind, willfully ignore them.

“But I'm basically going to oppose this on the grounds that we don't have enough affordable housing at the heart of it.”

READ MORE: Second phase of huge Station Hill development revealed

However, a planning officer told the planning committee that developers Lincoln MGT were providing cash which would enable the building of the extra 15 per cent affordable homes off-site, away from the new Station Hill development.

The officer acknowledged “harm exists” in the shortfall of affordable housing on-site, but due to the “substantial regeneration benefits” of the scheme, the council’s planning team recommended the designs go ahead.

Earlier in the meeting, Labour councillor Tony Page had backed the scheme.

He said: “I think it's important to stress that after many years of different ownership and different planning consents, we finally have an owner who is actually spending some serious money on getting on with the site, preparing it ready for works.

“And that has to be welcome, particularly given the current economic and financial context.

READ MORE: How Station Hill's 61 new homes will be squeezed into development

“I think we're working with developers who want to get things done, and we have overall an exciting package.”

Cllr Page urged his colleagues to get behind the revised proposals.

Station Hill second phase

Station Hill second phase

All members of the planning committee voted for the scheme, with the exception of Cllr Duveen, who voted against, when the committee met on Wednesday, March 3.

The approval means there will now be 64 studio flats, 276 one-bed flats, 248 two-bed apartments and 11 three-bed flats at the site.

This development is just one part of much larger development proposals, which, once complete, would include:

  • Office accommodation for approximately 8,000 employees
  • 100,000 sq ft of lifestyle-led space for retail, cafes and restaurants
  • A new pedestrian link and open space between the station and the town centre, “becoming a new district and destination for Reading”.

Plans for the second phase of the development have also been revealed and include hundreds of homes, office space and a hotel.