More than 1,000 residents have clashed over parking changes in a small street in Reading’s university area, with opponents claiming an independent theatre in the street would be ‘devastated’ if any parking changes are made.

However some neighbours argued proposed the changes would make parking for permit holders and carers easier.

The Mount, located in the Redlands ward, is a residential street made up of houses, apartments, bungalows and the Progress Theatre, with 56 parking spaces and 53 properties in the street.

Proposed parking rule changes were discussed at a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s traffic management sub-committee, where councillors considered requests for changes to parking time restrictions.

Changes to parking in The Mount received around 1,121 comments in the consultation.

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Currently, parking restrictions are in place Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm for two hours, with no return within two hours.

Permit holders can park at any time, and there are no restrictions during weekends.

But there have been proposals to change the restrictions so that they are in place from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday for two hours, with no return within two hours.

Reading Chronicle: The proposed parking changes for The Mount in the Redlands university area of Reading. Credit: Reading Borough CouncilThe proposed parking changes for The Mount in the Redlands university area of Reading. Credit: Reading Borough Council

This led to hundreds of people raising fears that the proposal would force  Progress Theatre to close.

A respondent to the consultation said: “The Progress Theatre would be devastated by this. It’s meant to be a Community Asset and severe parking restrictions would be catastrophic for them.

“It plays a massive part in youth engagement and is a vital link in keeping the young people of Reading off the streets and developing themselves into upstanding members of Reading’s community. There are many groups that use this theatre and they would all suffer.

“In summary I’m simply baffled why this would need to even be put forward, let alone valuable council time and money wasted on anything other than rejecting this proposal.”

Reading Chronicle: The Progress Theatre in The Mount, Reading. Credit: Google MapsThe Progress Theatre in The Mount, Reading. Credit: Google Maps

Additionally, a former member of the theatre said: “I have fantastic memories of performing/directing/stage managing and watching productions here which but unfortunately I had to stop, but still we would be absolutely devastated to lose the theatre.

“There are many famous names and many upcoming stars one of which was fairly recently a character in Dr Who, that started their careers there so it is full of history.

“Doing these road parking changes would mean the theatre would end up having to be shut down due to loss of income and custom especially after the struggle of two years of the pandemic which they’re still trying to recover from.”

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Speaking at the meeting, Stewart Singleton-White, who said he’s lived in The Mount for 21 years, said he’s  always been able to find a parking space, even when productions are being held at Progress Theatre.

However, some neighbours living in The Mount voiced support for the changes.

Nicky Hayward, who said she was representing 21 households, said: “Restrictions are currently inconsistently applied and we are the anomaly in the area, with excessively lenient parking.

“Carers have dubbed it ‘a nightmare’ parking in The Mount.”

She added that neighbours have to compete with students, commercial vans and residents from other areas for parking spaces.

She also criticised the survey for making it anonymous, arguing that it freed people to swamp the consultation.

Ultimately, councillors on the committee decided to defer decision on the proposed changes until the June meeting of the committee.