The old Autotrader building and another office in Lower Earley are set to be demolished on a site that was meant to be turned into new homes.

The Autotrader building and Hartman House at Danehill have both been vacant and boarded up since 2015.

Back in 2019, the owners won approval on appeal to build 76 flats across three buildings on the site.

Later, the owners got prior approval to retain the two office buildings and convert them into 26 flats.

However, these plans have since been dropped by developers Nodia Properties RR Limited & Aydevan Developers Ltd.

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The office buildings will now be replaced with one new industrial building for use as a logistics hub after a scheme was approved at a Wokingham Borough Council planning committee meeting.

Planning agent Mark Thomson, speaking on behalf of the developers, said having flats on the site “would not be viable” and that it would be more appropriate and logical that the site be used for commercial purposes.

He added that the development will contribute £4-5 million to Wokingham Borough’s economy.

Councillor Andrew Mickleburgh who represents the area, welcomed the redvelopment of the site.

Cllr Mickleburgh, (Liberal Democrats, Hawkedon), said: “There are many reasons why it would be wonderful for this site to be brought back into us, and these proposals have many merits, especially job creation.”

Reading Chronicle: The former Autotrader and Hartman site in Danehill, Lower Earley. Credit: Robert Davies John West LtdThe former Autotrader and Hartman site in Danehill, Lower Earley. Credit: Robert Davies John West Ltd

However, concern was raised over the frequency of lorries going to and from the site, as the developers applied for it to be open 24 hours a day.

Councillor Pauline Jorgensen pointed out that, although Danehill is not a residential area, Cutbush Lane is.

Cllr Jorgensen (Conservative, Hillside) said: “That bothers me a bit, especially 24/7.

“You’re passing houses going down Cutbush Lane to go towards the M4, and I wouldn’t like to see large lorries going regularly passed those houses 24 hours a day.”

Planning officer Simon Taylor replied by saying that night time use of the site would be relatively low.

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Cllrs Mickleburgh and Jorgensen both suggested that double yellow lines should be put along Cutbush Lane to prevent parking issues that could arise from heavier traffic in the area, and expressed worries about speeding along the lane.

However, traffic officer Chris Easton replied that double yellow lines would compromise the availability of on-street car parking, arguing that this is already very limited during working hours, and that traffic in the area would become slower once the site comes back into use.

For traffic movements in general, the new industrial unit comes with 48 car parking spaces, five motorbike spaces and five HGV loading bays.

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The plan was approved unanimously by the committee on Wednesday, March 9.

You can view documents by typing reference 214046 into Wokingham Borough Council’s planning portal here:

Previously, the owners of the buildings had applied to replace them with 126 flats in 2016, but that plan was refused that year and dismissed on appeal in 2017.