New plans have been submitted to build a block of flats on the site of a former church next-door to a popular arts venue near the town centre.

The empty land at 21 South Street, formerly home to Zoar Strict Baptist Chapel, is next door to South Street Arts Centre, a longstanding cultural venue which is home to performance groups and a venue for local church services.

Plans for an eight-flat block of apartments were submitted last week, with a similar previous proposal being abandoned.

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The developer wants to build a block of:

  • Two studio apartments
  • Four one-bed flats
  • Two two-bed flats

The new plan increases the size of one of the flats, with one more one-bedroom flat, and one less studio apartment.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: The empty site next to the arts centrePICTURED: The empty site next to the arts centre

The Reading Borough Council (RBC)-run South Street Arts Centre has raised concerns about the plans.

John Luther, artistic director at South Street Arts, said: “After previous developments locally we have received complaints from residents about noise and we had to take remedial action at great cost to the council.

“This development would be a matter of metres from our building and we are therefore extremely concerned that we will once again be put in a difficult position through no fault of our own.

“We have been on this site presenting music as part of a wider programme of performing arts since 1989.

“It is my understanding that any new development should be required to take these matters into consideration and that any costs for sound proofing either their development or the costs of sound proofing our building should be at their cost, not at the cost of the existing venue.

“South Street is a much-loved venue with local residents and provides a service which garners national acclaim. It is a jewel in the crown of Reading’s cultural scene.”

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: How the building would lookPICTURED: How the building would look

Around 20 residents raised concerns about the previous plan, saying future tenants would complain about noise and that it should be the responsibility of the developer to properly soundproof the flats to avoid this issue.

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RBC planning officers approved those plans but put in a condition which says the developer must submit a detailed scheme for avoiding issues over noise coming from the surrounding area, and specifically from South Street Arts Centre.

They said the developer would also have to take noise measurements when live events take place at the arts centre to help it to devise a way to avoid noise complaints from future tenants.