Plans have been submitted once again to turn town centre offices into dozens of flats following three refusals by the council in three months.

Tene Living and Business Environment SoanePoint have submitted a joint planning application to convert the Soane Point Market Place offices into 93 flats after previous plans for 144 and 100 apartments were rejected.

To address concerns about the impact of noise from nearby commercial businesses on future occupiers of the flats, the developers have adapted the proposal.

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The number of homes has been reduced by seven to allow all flats facing the internal courtyard to have separate bedrooms and living rooms, which will allow occupiers to open a window and use another room away from potential noise.

But the developers say the proposed ventilation system “will provide cooled and filtered fresh air to the homes, thus providing a better environment than opening a window”.

They have also rejected claims from council officers that noise levels would be 30 decibels above normal background noise.

The plans include:

  • 43 studio flats
  • 49 one-bed flats
  • One three-bed flat

Three rejected plans in three months

The two developers submitted individual rival applications to convert offices at 6-8 Market Place into 100 flats but Reading Borough Council (RBC) planning officers refused both applications in July due to noise concerns.

A previous application from Tene Living to convert the three-to-four storey offices into 144 studio apartments was refused by RBC in May, due to concerns about noise and contamination issues for future occupiers.

Before the three refusals, a plan from Castleforge Partners to extend the ‘Soane Point’ offices by five storeys and make it a mix of co-working spaces and private offices was withdrawn after concerns were raised by City Pub Group, which owns the neighbouring Market House.

The developer has appealed this decision.

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The two 100-flat plans were refused due to concerns future tenants would be adversely affected by noise from extractor fans from nearby commercial businesses.

Officers said residents would not be able to open their windows without being exposed to noise which will potentially amount to a nuisance being up to 30 decibels above background levels.

They added: “This impact is exacerbated by the fact the majority of the proposed flats are studio units consisting of a single room meaning that when a window is open there would not be any habitable part of the flats unaffected by noise.

“In addition, given that the plant noise is continuous, there would be no quiet time for future occupiers, unlike with other town centre noises such as music venues/bars which quieten down during night-time hours reducing the level of nuisance.”

The latest application has attempted to address concerns by reducing the number of flats and the number of studio flats in particular, while the developer has denied claims of 30db noise levels.