Plan to replace Reading student flats set for refusal

The property company HansLink has applied to knock down Trinity Hall, which stands at the junction of South Street and Sidmouth Street, and replace it with a 22-home apartment building.

Trinity Hall used to serve as student accommodation but has been vacant since 2014, with the entrance and ground floor windows being boarded up to deter intruders.

HansLink wants to replace it with a five-storey building with a roof, containing  one three-bed, seven two-bed and 14 one-bed flats.

All of the flats would be designated as affordable, with 11 parking spaces and 22 cycle parking spaces being provided.

Of the car spaces, two would be reserved for disabled blue badge holders.

READ MORE: Reading School rebuts fears over plan for 388 flats on playing fields

However, Trinity Hall is set to stay for the time being as it has faced opposition from neighbours and the council’s planning department.

The plan has been opposed by the Reading Islamic Centre located directly opposite in South Street.

Baddar Kayani the chairman of the centre, objecting on the behalf of his community, said:  “The height and number of apartments is excessive, the layout and density of the proposed units is inappropriate and a small number of family houses with some garden space is much more suitable.

“The traffic and noise generated by this excessive proposal will add to the congestion and pollution that is already prevalent in the area, added to not least by the disastrous introduction of the still unused cycle lane along the whole of one car lane in Sidmouth Street.

“The insufficient level of parking in the proposed development will instigate a further reduction of on-street car parking spaces in the area.

“The Centre is a place of worship with decades of experience in the area feel it is inappropriate to erect high density accommodation which will further erode the sense of community and increase demand on the ever-decreasing amenities and social infrastructure the area is experiencing and is forecast to lose even further.”

Reading Chronicle: The elevation plan for the 22 flats building to replace Trinity Hall at the junction of Sidmouth Street and South Street in Reading. Credit: HanslinkThe elevation plan for the 22 flats building to replace Trinity Hall at the junction of Sidmouth Street and South Street in Reading. Credit: Hanslink

These arguments were accepted by council planning officer Ethne Humphreys, who has recommended the plan be refused ahead of a council planning meeting.

Ultimately, she judged that the site would have a ‘cramped overdeveloped character’ and ‘visually incongruous appearance’ with surrounding buildings.

She’s also argued that an ‘overprovision’ of one bed flats does not adequately address the town’s housing needs.

However, HansLink was praised for making all of the flats affordable.

The plan is set to be decided at a Reading Borough Council planning applications committee meeting on Wednesday, June 21.

You can view the application by typing reference 220385 into the council’s planning portal.

A previous plan, reference 151356, involved replacing Trinity Hall with a four storey building containing 25 student flats.

While that was approved in December 2015, the applicants the United Reform Church Trust never enacted the plan.

HansLink recently won approval from Wokingham Borough Council  to redevelop the Library Parade building in Woodley to provide 14 flats.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre