Changes for plan for 209 flats at riverside in Reading

Housebuilder Berkeley Homes is in charge of a project to build 209 apartments contained within seven named blocks on the south bank of the River Thames.

The project involves replacing the old SSE power station buildings on the site at 55 Vastern Road and replacing them with new apartment blocks.

The plan for the flats proved controversial when they emerged in 2020.

Reading Borough Council’s planning committee rejected the scheme in April 2021, with councillors complaining that Berkeley Homes had failed to design an adequate north-south route for pedestrians and cyclists, and that the tall buildings would overshadow the River Thames.

However, the developers launched an appeal to the government’s planning inspectorate to get that rejection overturned, which succeeded in March 2022.

READ MORE: Developer wins appeal to build 209 homes at old SSE site in Reading

Now Berkeley Homes have had to submit revisions as new fire regulations mandate that buildings that are a minimum of 18 metres tall must have two stair cores to provide easier escape for residents in the event of a fire.

As a result of the regulations, the buildings have been redesigned, with one storey being added to the western wing of Block B, which is called The Goods Warehouse building.

This flats block faces onto Vastern Road.

Meanwhile, amendments have also been applied for to the top two floors of Block D, called the Turbine Hall, and Block E, called Christchurch Wharf, which will be the towers people first see when they cross over Christchurch Bridge from Caversham.

Reading Chronicle: The named buildings plan for the Berkeley Homes old power station development in Vastern Road, on the south bank of the Thames in Reading. Credit: Berkeley HomesThe named buildings plan for the Berkeley Homes old power station development in Vastern Road, on the south bank of the Thames in Reading. Credit: Berkeley Homes

While Berkeley Homes has maintained the amount of flats at 209, the redesign has meant the number of bed flats has been reduced by nine.

Therefore, the company now plans to provide 70 one-bed, 127 two-bed and 12 three-bed flats.

All of the nine two-bed flats lost would become one-bed flats instead.

The development will also feature a ‘Thames View Cafe’ with a platform for future customers to enjoy, and a sculpture or piece of public art fronting onto Vastern Road.

Future residents would be able to make use of 50 vehicle parking spaces, of which 12 will be provided at street level, and 38 will be contained within undercofts.

Furthermore, there will be 134 secured cycle spaces and 12 outdoor spaces for cyclists.

You can view the application for changes to the project by typing reference 231673 into the council’s planning portal.

Changes to fire safety rules requiring buildings of over 18 metres to have two stair cores were implemented in July last year.

These rules led to the redesign of The Old Power Station scheme, the 600 flats plan for Broad Street Mall and the withdrawal of a plan to replace The Restoration pub in Tilehurst with 18 flats.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre