A plan to knock down Reading’s driving test centre and replace it with homes has been thrown out once again.

The Reading test centre at 220 Elgar Road South is currently in use as a place where new drivers can take their tests and obtain a licence so they can legally hit the road on their own.

But developer Maxika Homes had plans to demolish the existing one-storey brick building and replace it with an apartment block.

However, its plans have proven unpopular as they have been rejected three times.

In December 2021, Reading Borough Council’s planning committee refused a plan to replace the building with 18 flats contained in one apartment block.

The council’s decision notice criticised the application for its ‘poor and insecure choice of layout’, lack of information about affordable housing and having ‘substandard’ cycle storage which would be ‘at risk of break-ins’.

READ MORE: Council refuses plan to replace driving test centre with 18 flats 

Maxika Homes launched an appeal to get the decision overturned earlier this year, but government planning inspector James Blackwell dismissed it, as the developers had failed to agree a financial contribution to mitigate the lack of outdoor space.

The developer suffered a fresh defeat when its plan for a more modest 16 apartments was refused at a recent planning meeting.

This time, Maxika Homes were hoping to achieve permission for a three storey apartment block containing eight one-bed, seven two-bed and one three-bedroom flats.

Council planning officer Alison Amoah stated that acceptable changes had been made, which involved moving cycle storage inside the proposed building, changes to the entrance and exits to make them more secure, adapted window arrangements to provide more daylight, and the removal of front private outdoor amenity space in favour of communal space.

But these changes failed to convince the committee.

Councillor Andrew Hornsby-Smith (Labour, Church) pointed out that the plan did not comply with the council’s housing policy, which states that for proposals for 10 new homes or more, 50 per cent or more of them should have at least three bedrooms.

The most recent Maxika Homes plan only proposed one three-bedroom unit.

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Earlier, officer Amoah pointed out that inspector Blackwell sided with Maxika Homes regarding the character, appearance, cycle storage and crime prevention concerns.

Cllr Josh Williams (Green, Park) disagreed with inspector Blackwell’s conclusions, calling them “subjective.”

The latest plan was refused unanimously by the committee on December 7.

The main reasons for refusal was the lack of outdoor amenity space provided and the failure to comply with housing policy H2, which is outlined in the Reading Borough Local Plan 2019.

You can view it by typing reference 220258 into the council’s planning portal.