Concerns about access to daylight have been raised as a project to build new studio space for a theatre in Reading town centre moves ahead.

Reading Borough Council is making progress on its project to build a new theatre and studio next to The Hexagon to facilitate performances and allow space for practice show runs.

The project is going ahead after Reading Borough Council won circa £13.7 million from the government’s department of levelling up, housing and communities (DLUHC).

However, concerns have been raised that the new building could block access to light for neighbours.

These concerns were discussed at a council meeting, with Michael Graham, the council's assistant director of legal and democratic services mentioning that neighbouring student flats Aparto Queens Court could be impacted.

That’s because The Hexagon upgrade will lead to a 29 per cent reduction daylight to 20 studies and bedrooms on the ground and first floor of Aparto Queens Court.

Reading Chronicle: A design of the extension to The Hexagon in Queens Walk, Reading. Credit: Reading Borough CouncilA design of the extension to The Hexagon in Queens Walk, Reading. Credit: Reading Borough Council

The council must follow rules for ‘injuries to Right to Light’ and how they could be compensated.

Issues of light access were considered when the council’s planning applications committee approved The Hexagon upgrade on March 27, with the reductions in daylight being considered acceptable.

The council’s ability to acquire land so the project can go ahead was discussed at a recent policy committee meeting.

During the meeting, Mr Graham said: “There is one nearby property which is principally affected.

“If The Hexagon studio theatre is built in the way the planning permission envisages then it will affect the Right of Light going into the nearby student accommodation.

“Councillors may already have set on the planning applications committee where daylight and sunlight impacts were considered and assessed as part of the planning balance.

“We are not considering the planning merits, and we are not considering those issues of daylight and sunlight which were raised in that report to the planning applications committee.

“That is a separate function of the council as the planning authority.”

Council officials argued it needed certainty that The Hexagon extension project can go ahead without the risk of being impeded by private landownership rights.

Fears were raised that ownership complexities could cause unacceptable delays to the project.

The council hopes that work can begin on the site this July, for practical completion in February 2026.

These deadlines have been set so that programme requirements dictated by the DLUHC are met.

If these deadlines are not met, the council could lose out on government funding for The Hexagon upgrade.

The decision to give the council's officials the legal powers to proceed with the development was made in a private session of the policy committee on Tuesday, May 28.

A council spokesperson clarified that The Hexagon Theatre extension is on public land.

They said that decisions made were a legal process based to secure the legal position of the land because of historic 1960 and 1970s documentation which states land was purchased and released to be created in the first place.

The land has been public realm since that time and the council is just making sure the correct legal processes are in in place based because of the old documentation maybe incomplete.