The old cemetery at Cemetery Junction could be protected as an asset of community value (ACV) protection, if campaigners get their way.

Reading Civic Society has applied to Reading Borough Council (RBC) for Reading Old Cemetery to join the list of buildings and sites in the town which must be used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.

Established in 1842, it ceased to be the main cemetery in Reading following the opening of the Henley Road site in 1927 and has since been a place for local people to walk, appreciate the wildlife, and visit the historic graves and war memorial.

Reading Civic Society chair Richard Bennett said: “Given the enduring use of over 180 years of the site by the community we hope that, if successful, the application may be a catalyst re-invigorate efforts by the community, working in partnership with RBC, for the whole cemetery to be better cared for and used by the local community.”

The cemetery was bought by Reading Borough Council (RBC), through a compulsory purchase order, as the Reading Cemetery Company was “finding it difficult to carry on”, reflecting the low level use of its original purpose.

RBC is currently attempting to sell the Cemetery Junction archway building at the site.

READ MORE: Reading’s Cemetery Junction arch back on sale as community bid rejected

What protection does a building get if it is listed as an ACV?

Once a building is added to the list, it must be used for this purpose for five years, after which the property is removed from the list, although you can apply again for it to be re-submitted.

If the owner of an ACV building wants to sell the property, they must contact the council, who will notify the community group that nominated the asset.

The community group can then register its interest as a potential bidder, triggering a six-month period during which, with certain exceptions, the owner can only sell the asset to a community interest group.

After the six-month period, the owner can sell to whomever they choose.

Why does Reading Civic Society think the site should be listed?

Mr Bennett said he had been in discussion with Nick Cooksey, who is developing a bid for the Cemetery Junction arch, about whether the gateway could become an asset of community value.

READ MORE: Community plans submitted to council for Reading’s Cemetery Junction Arch

But the Reaidng Civic Society chair realised it would not be easy to provide evidence of recent community use.

But he said the more he explored the use of the cemetery, the more it became apparent it would be appropriate to list the whole cemetery as an ACV.

People are occasionally still buried in family graves, but the use of the site has been mainly by local people and those interested in the memorials which mark the “great and the good” of Reading and its diversity, including paupers graves.

Reading Civic Society says local people in the town and others use the area as an opportunity to interact with nature and wildlife and “today’s challenges make such interaction more important than ever as it supports wellbeing”.

The society’s application praises the cemetery as a green lung for the town and haven for wildlife, fitting well with aims for combatting climate change, and as a site which helps to establish a connection for people with Reading past and present.

What other buildings and sites are on the list?

There are currently seven ACVs in Reading, six of which are pubs:

  • The Nags Head, Russell Street
  • The Rose & Thistle, Argyle Road
  • The After Dark, London Street
  • The Hop Leaf, Southampton Street
  • Foresters Arms, Brunswick Street
  • The Spread Eagle, Norfolk Road

The other site on the list is the Mapledurham Pavilion and Car Park.

The Madejski Stadium was until recently an ACV, with its listing having expired in April.

Madejski Stadium captured by Trevor Smith

Madejski Stadium captured by Trevor Smith

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) contacted Reading FC supporters’ trust STAR, which said it would look to restore the listing.

Meanwhile, the Butchers Arms' (another pub) ACV status expired in January, but the pub has since submitted a new application.

The former Arthur Hill pool and the north wall and mural of the Central Club were both previously on the list.