A plan to knock down a historic aircraft factory building in Woodley and replace it with commercial and industrial buildings has been refused.

The developers, HE2 Reading 1 GP, had applied to demolish the Adwest building, the former Miles Aircraft factory, and replace it with industrial units.

But the application proved unpopular, with a petition calling for the building to be saved from redevelopment amassing 4,849 signatures on Change.org.

The plan was refused at a Wokingham Borough Council planning committee meeting yesterday (Wednesday, June 8) over concerns about loss of heritage and intensified HGV traffic along Headley Road East.

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The building has a storied history, being used for the construction of aircraft and as a training ground for fighter pilots during World War Two.

In peacetime, it continued to be used as an aircraft factory, and was later used as a pen factory that made biros.

An officer suggested the development would result in an additional three HGV movements per hour.

Kye Mead, a neighbour, said: “Let me put this into context.

“This is a large industrial distribution estate, it’s going to have 20 individual HGV loading bays, yet there will only be an extra HGV movements per hour?”

Councillor Keith Baker (Conservative, Coronation) echoed concerns about more lorry traffic in the area.

Cllr Baker said: “The volume of HGV movements will be dictated by who actually leases each of those units.

“Some companies will have significantly more demand for HGV movements than others.”

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The developers wanted to replace the existing building with five new ones, which would have been used for industrial businesses and storage facilities.

Andy Ryley, the agent for the applicant, pointed out the current building is not listed, and the development would create 222 and 433 new jobs.

He added the new buildings would be modern and energy efficient.

Reading Chronicle: What the buildings that would replace the Adwest building in Woodley would have looked like if built. Credit: PRG GroupWhat the buildings that would replace the Adwest building in Woodley would have looked like if built. Credit: PRG Group

The plan was opposed by Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East.

Reacting to the refusal, Mr Rodda said: “I am delighted that the committee turned down this application.

“The Adwest Building is arguably Woodley’s most important historic building. It tells the story of the town’s aviation heritage.

“This important decision is a vital step on the road to saving the building and preserving it for the future.

“The proposed demolition and replacement with a HGV depot would have cause terrible air and noise pollution problems and a worrying increase in HGV traffic and I am very pleased for neighbouring local residents, whose homes would have been blighted by this development.

“I would like to thank the committee for making the right decision and I want to pay tribute to campaigners including Cllr Shirley Boyt (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates) aviation historian Julian Temple and many others, including all those who completed my survey about this issue.”