A decision on a plan to replace shops and an American restaurant near Reading town centre with 600 homes is long overdue 17 months on from a council verdict.

Years ago, a plan was submitted to demolish the Reading Station Shopping Park on Vastern Road and replace it with new apartment blocks.

The shopping park is made up of a large L-shaped building made up of The Range, Majestic Wines, Aldi and One Below discount shop, as well as TGI Fridays, which is contained in a separate building.

The developers Aviva Life & Pensions UK were hoping to replace it with up to 600 new homes, retail space, a takeaway, offices and more.

A CGI shows the development is contained in four plots, with the new buildings reaching heights of 17 and 18 storeys.

Reading Chronicle: The indicative heights of the buildings for the outline plan for 600 homes, offices and more in Reading.The indicative heights of the buildings for the outline plan for 600 homes, offices and more in Reading. (Image: Collado Collins Architects)

But a decision on the plan was never made due to timetabling issues between the council and the developers. A target decision date in July 2021 was not met.

Therefore, Aviva appealed against the council’s non-determination of its project to the government planning inspectorate in December 2021.

Now, a letter has been issued by the planning inspectorate stating that a decision is now due in November after a delay.

The letter to the council’s planning department states: “The secretary of state is considering the report of the inspector, Susan Heywood BSc (Hons) MCD MRTPI, who held a public local inquiry which opened on April 26, 2022, into the above planning appeal.

“You were previously informed that a decision on this case would be issued on or before September 20, 2023.

“Further time is required to consider this case, and unfortunately it will not be possible to reach a decision on this appeal by September 20, 2023.

“Therefore, in the exercise of the power conferred on him by paragraph 6(2) of Schedule 2 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Secretary of State hereby gives notice that he has varied the timetable previously set and he will now issue his decision on or before 21 November 2023.

“We aim to issue a decision as quickly as possible.”

The plan proved unpopular with councillors.

A special planning committee meeting was held on February 15, 2022, to determine how the councillors would have decided on the plan if it were to follow the correct decision-making procedures.

READ MORE: Reading 600 homes plan to replace Aldi and The Range slammed

At the time, councillor John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) said the scheme was ‘not good planning’ with cllr Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) accusing Aviva of failing to answer councillors’ questions.

You can view the application by typing reference 200328 into the council’s planning portal, and track the appeal progress on the planning inspectorate website using reference APP/E0345/W/21/3289748.

The planning inspectorate that determines appeals falls within the government department of housing, levelling up and communities, headed by secretary of state Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath.

The appeal is set to be decided on by an inspector this November.