The University of Reading (UoR) and property developer UPP have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to redevelop St Patrick’s Hall on Northcourt Avenue. Reading Borough Council (RBC) refused the University’s application in February 2018. Public objections need to be submitted to the inspectorate before 18 October.

RBC refused the previous application because it had contravened council policies and, in RBC’s view, the design was both overbearing and inappropriate. Reading Civic Society had described the development proposal as “almost brutal.”

Reading East MP Matt Rodda had written that “the effect of this application… would be to change a green and pleasant arts and crafts road into an… over-developed urban area containing many modern tower blocks” in a letter to the RBC planning department.

Northcourt Avenue Residents’ Association (NARA), which represent views of people living in the avenue as well as surrounding roads, had said:

Residents feel that the proposal for the bland, featureless blocks to be built adjacent to the retained locally listed Pearson’s Court is characterless and soulless.

NARA say that the redevelopment of St Patrick’s would increase student numbers on the site by 64%. The proposal to demolish some existing buildings and add 836 new student bedrooms would lead to a local student population of 1885, which would overwhelm the local resident population of 280.

In their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, the University:

  • refutes that their design is overbearing or obtrusive,
  • claims that there is a shortage of student accommodation in Reading and Wokingham,
  • says that RBC policy encourages building student accommodation on University grounds, to reduce demand for privately rented accommodation in the town,
  • would only increase the population of students in all of Church ward to 32%,
  • would not affect local parking as students would not be offered parking spaces, and most residents on Northcourt Avenue have off-street parking anyway.

NARA have asked residents to lodge objections to the University’s appeal by focussing on the harm caused to the character and amenity of the surrounding area, including:

  • the overbearing height and mass of the redevelopment, which fails to maintain or enhance distinctive buildings on the site and in the surrounding residential area,
  • the excessive height and mass of the redevelopment which would harm the setting of the non-designated heritage asset Pearson’s Court,
  • the high density of the proposed 4-6 storey buildings and the large increase in students which would harm the mix and balance of the existing residential community,
  • the harmful loss of mature trees with amenity and habitat value.

Objections to the University’s appeal need to be received by the Planning Inspectorate by 18 October. You can send your objections via:

Holly Dutton
The Planning Inspectorate
3J Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol BS1 6P

Each objection must quote appeal reference APP/E0345/W/18/3209702.

  1. Planning application 172045: St Patrick’s redevelopment
  2. St Patrick’s Hall redevelopment project
  3. UoR planning appeal (PDF) and case at the Planning Inspectorate
  4. RBC locally listed buildings
  5. Northcourt Avenue Residents’ Association fight St Patrick’s redevelopment plans
  6. Planning application 172045 and 172047 : St Patricks Hall, Northcourt Avenue
  7. Reading University asks for public feedback on St Patrick’s redevelopment plans
  8. University tries again with St Patrick’s
  9. Demolition plans for St Patrick’s Hall
  10. Northcourt Avenue: its history and people (Penny Kemp, 1996)