A hotel has stopped works to flatten out its cobbled courtyard, which is protected by listing, after the council intervened.
Residents raised concerns after spotting works taking place at the Mercure George Hotel cobbled courtyard in the town centre, which is protected by Grade II listing.
The works at 10-12 King Street are thought to have been aimed at making it easier to provide seating in the courtyard but listed building consent is required to make any changes.
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Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning at Reading Borough Council (RBC), said: “The authorities have agreed to suspend all work and reminded them of the fact it is a listed building and they will need listed building consent.
“The works at the courtyard have now ceased. Following the alerts this morning, the council moved pretty quickly.”
According to Cllr Page, the hotel “wants to have a level and smooth surface on which to put chairs and table on safely”.
Councillor Richard Davies, who raised the issue with councillors after spotting concerns on Twitter, posted an update on the social media site.
OK. The works below have been stopped and George Hotel will be going through proper channels for a listed building to ensure that any works they want to do preserves and enhances the listed heritage setting. Thanks @RdgButler and everyone else for alerting me and @KarenRowlandRDG https://t.co/CW4InMD4Zx
— Richard Davies (@REDCaversham) June 3, 2021
He said: “OK. The works below have been stopped and George Hotel will be going through proper channels for a listed building to ensure that any works they want to do preserves and enhances the listed heritage setting.”
“Thanks @RdgButler and everyone else for alerting me and @KarenRowlandRDG.”
Reading resident @RdgButler has raised concerns on Twitter after spotting the works.
Sad to see the Mercure run George Hotel (1423) which makes a big thing about heritage building over its cobble courtyard. Surely better solutions than this? @ReadingCouncil @All @ReadingOnThames @ShitThingsRDG pic.twitter.com/PdiNtRmIM1
— OIi (@RdgButler) June 3, 2021
He tweeted: “Sad to see the Mercure run George Hotel, which makes a big thing about heritage, building over its cobble courtyard. Surely better solutions than this?”
Others called the works “a real pity” and “a shame”.
Oh no! This was a lovely little courtyard. And surely these days, special outdoor spaces should be preserved and made the most of! https://t.co/zMH6i85VjJ
— Rachel in hibernation (@rach0907) June 3, 2021
This is a real pity 😔 https://t.co/1KzIHtBpd7
— ReadingTallMe (@ReadingTallMe) June 3, 2021
Shame, that was a nice little courtyard. https://t.co/5iiUpFa5W6
— 💩 Shit Things in Reading 💩 (@ShitThingsRDG) June 3, 2021
Responding to Cllr Davies update, @RdgButler tweeted: “Thanks for the update. We’ve seen in many places that it’s possible to make changes like this without damaging the heritage – hope they can find the right mix to support their business.”
And councillor Karen Rowland, RBC’s lead member for Culture and Heritage, added: “That’s what the proper channels best allow for – respecting heritage and allowing use of heritage sites to continue to everyone’s benefit. Thanks for the alert.”
Mercure has been approached for comment.
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The Mercure George Hotel is currently up for sale here.
Prezzo and Workhouse Coffee Company are also part of the 10-12 King Street site, with the businesses paying rent to the hotel owners.