An old funeralcare building in Reading will go forever and be replaced with an apartment block.

Earlier this year, a plan was submitted to replace The Co-operative Funeralcare in Southampton Street with a 19 home apartment block.

Now, demolition of the old building and construction of a single apartment block can take place as the plan has been approved following a council meeting.

During the process, members of the committee praised the scheme and welcomed the site being brought back into use after Funeralcare’s closure in 2019.

Councillor Jan Gavin (Labour, Caversham) commented, while people have visited to arrange funerals, ‘it is a building of no merit, so we can all agree that the replacement of the funeral home is absolutely the right thing to do’.

Adding: “I think the red brick, the rendering, the roof, the design I think is quite understated, but that is good because it doesn’t detract the very significant heritage sites that surround it.

“It doesn’t need to draw attention to itself, but it does need to sit comfortably within a number of other listed buildings within Southampton Street and I would praise the design here, it does actually do that.”

Surrounding listed buildings include St Giles Church and 72-76 Southampton Street on the opposite side of the road.

READ MORE: Details of plan to replace Reading funeral care office with 19 apartments 

However, cllr Gavin said she was “really disappointed” that no affordable housing would be provided, and Dave Jenkins, the owner of 87 Southampton Street which neighbours the site spoke in opposition of it at the meeting.

He complained that the construction of the apartment block would result in a loss of light for his building, which currently serve as offices.

Mr Jenkins suggested that the plan should be changes or adapted to pass daylight guidelines, which would assist him in his plans to convert floors of  87 Southampton Street from offices into flats.

He said: “My concern is that if I wanted to convert it to residential in the future, it would fail the light test and then I’m left with a commercial space surrounded with residential.”

But his complaint was rebuffed by planning officer Matt Burns, who stated that the impact on daylight was not great enough for the application to be refused.

Reading Chronicle: The old Co-operative Funeral Care in Southampton Street, Reading, with signs removed, taken in October 2020. Credit Google MapsThe old Co-operative Funeral Care in Southampton Street, Reading, with signs removed, taken in October 2020. Credit Google Maps

Meanwhile, councillors had questions over what contributions would be made towards affordable housing.

Although no affordable housing will be provided, the developer Perfect Property Developments agreed to pay the council 50 per cent of any surplus profits it makes above 17.5 per cent of Gross Development Value of the development (GDV) to go into funding off-site affordable housing in Reading.

The developers rationalised that providing affordable housing would be unviable, therefore the monetary contributions would be made after a second viability assessment conduct prior to the sale of the last few apartments.

READ MORE: New Greggs in Reading refused over traffic concerns and loss of green space

The contributions would be secured within the Section 106 agreement, which is a legal agreement between the council and the developers.

Angela Banks for ALB Planning, speaking on behalf of the developers said: “There is a fair process with the section 106.”

Ultimately, the application was unanimously approved by the planning committee on Wednesday, September 7.