The Central Pool in Battle Street, which was run by Reading Borough Council, was closed at the end of January in 2018 as it would have required a £5 million refurbishment which the council felt was ‘very poor value for money’.
Following its closure, the pool was demolished and the council submitted a plan last year to replace it with seven buildings to provide 49 affordable homes and 13 supported living accommodation places.
However, a neighbour had concerns that the buildings would all but eliminate her access to daylight.
Dr Marie Arndt, who has lived in neighbouring Allison Court for almost 18 years, objected to the plan during its discussion at a planning committee meeting.
She argued five of the six windows in her flat would be blocked by the new buildings, which would leave her with an “unacceptable level of life.”
Dr Arndt also pointed out the light assessment was conducted on August 22, 2022, which had longer daylight hours than the winter.
She therefore argued the loss of light would require her to have her electric lights on longer, therefore using more energy.
Summing up, Dr Arndt said: “I’m already under considerable financial strain because of the energy prices, and if you actually go ahead with this plan you are knowingly and willingly driving me further into energy poverty and increased cost of living.”
She suggested that one of the buildings should be moved further to the east to limit her loss of daylight.
But this suggestion was rebuffed by councillor Karen Rowland (Labour, Abbey), who said that would create a gap that could attract anti-social behaviour.
However, cllr Rowland did say that councillors are “entirely empathetic” to the residents of Allison Court, and proposed that local councillors consulted on the designs of the buildings and the creation of a landscaped buffer to limit the impact on neighbours.
Advocating for the plan, councillor John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) called it a “very exciting and ambitious project” that would provide 100 per cent affordable housing and a 35 place older persons day care centre.
Cllr Ennis, the lead councillor for adult social care, is a member of the planning committee but declared an interest so was unable to vote.
The plan was approved unanimously by the committee at a meeting on Wednesday, March 1. You can view it by typing reference 221405 into the council’s planning portal.
Of the 49 affordable homes, 29 are reserved for those aged 55 and over.
Demolition of the Central Pool took place later in 2018.
Cllr Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) reflected that the pool was new when he became a councillor, but had ‘deteriorated’.
He said the car park had become ‘plagued with anti-social behaviour, ranging from the infamous Oxford Road sex workers to drug dealers, drug takers, the environment there at times was far from salubrious’.