Reading Borough Council (RBC) has yet again refused planning permission to replace the redundant Woodley Arms on Waldeck Street with a block of student flats.

This is the fourth application for redevelopment of the site. Planning approval was given in 2014 for the conversion of the building to four flats. This was followed by two applications from Lainston Woodley Arms LLP for redevelopment as student flats, both of which were rejected by RBC, and the developer’s appeal was also rejected by the government’s planning inspectorate.

A resident of Waldeck Street, Cheryl Dibden, spoke during the council’s planning meeting on 10 January, saying that the new application didn’t address the reasons why the previous ones had been refused.

“The dominance of this block… from Southampton Street is at least as great as that in the previous application,” she said. “The proposal for two-and-a-half storey blocks taking up the whole site to its very borders, with 38 additional residents, would overwhelm this quiet residential street.”

She added that the proposed building would significantly reduce local privacy because it would be built right up to the edge of the site and its windows would be much closer to neighbouring property.

“Despite the developers having organised a public consultation meeting, I am disappointed to see that no mention was made in the planning statement of our objections based on scale, mass and visual impact,” she said.

“This is the third time with this application and it’s changed very little from the original,” said Katesgrove councillor Rose Williams. “All I can suggest is that the developer considers selling-on this site because they’re wasting their money by constantly putting in planning applications.”

“If this site was used for housing families, we would probably be interested, but to keep bringing this application forward is not acceptable,” she continued. “We should say ‘no’ again, for the third time, to this application.”

“This revised plan is worse than the original,” said Councillor Ricky Duveen. “It brings the whole mass of the building further forward onto the pavement and makes it even more obnoxious.”

The council agreed with its officers’ recommendations and unanimously refused planning permission 171893.

  1. Planning application 171893 : The Woodley Arms, Waldeck Street
  2. Planning applications committee 10 January and webcast (the Woodley Arms discussion starts at 1:02:35)
  3. History of the Woodley Arms redevelopment