Reading town centre flats plan hit by rubbish concerns

Recently, a plan to convert defunct offices into flats in Market Place was discussed at a council meeting.

Earlier this year, the ground floor of the property 23-24 Market Place, became the home of The Bap Korean Street Food, which took over from the La’De Express Turkish restaurant.

Meanwhile, the offices in the upper floors of the building have been vacant for some time, with developer Sykes Capital seeking to convert these floors of the building into apartments.

READ MORE: Korean street food chain to take over closed restaurant in town centre

But councillors raised concerns about rubbish collection for the proposed flats, fearing that future residents could be left with bin odours and uncollected waste.

The plans showed that rubbish will all be collected from the first floor of the building, next to a flat containing two double bedrooms.

Reading Chronicle: The ground and first floor plans for the conversion of 23-24 Market Place in Reading from offices into flats. Credit: The Keen PartnershipThe ground and first floor plans for the conversion of 23-24 Market Place in Reading from offices into flats. Credit: The Keen Partnership (Image: The Keen Partnership)

The council’s waste collection team raised concerns about odour and difficulty managing the removal of rubbish, judging that it would be unsuitable for bin workers to collect the waste.

Therefore Sykes Capital will need to employ a private waste collector.

Councillor John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) asked what procedures could be put in place to ensure waste is collected properly.

The council’s legal advisor did say that the building owners could be taken to High Court to compel them to comply with a developer legal agreement to provide effective waste collection.

However, that answer failed to impress cllr Stephen Goss (Conservative, Emmer Green).

He said: “I appreciate there is recourse, but what about the residents in the meantime, who are stuck with rotten food waste?

“In time there may be recourse with the High Court but that doesn’t help in the short term, especially in summer.”

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Cllr Goss also criticised the plan for not being accessible to wheelchair users.

He said: “I also have concerns about the fact that this proposal is described as both being accessible and inaccessible, in that it’s accessible because it is centrally located, and therefore there are public transport links, but it is inaccessible in that there is no provision for those who would require a lift in the building because of the impact that would have on it as a listed building.

“Surely, we should be trying to ensure that any accommodation in the centre of town given the transport links that we enjoy there should have provision for those that require a lift or are disabled because they can benefit most from it.”

Planning officer Matt Burns acknowledged that the lack of accessibility was a “shortfall” of the scheme.

He added that officers judged on balance that the lack of access was acceptable due to limitations in adjusting the building, which is Grade II listed owning to its early 19th century curved frontage.

Ultimately, the council’s planning applications committee approved the scheme, with only councillors Goss and Simon Robinson (Conservative, Emmer Green) voting against it.

Conversion will involve building one two-bed apartment on the ground floor, and two two-bedroom flats each on the second and third floors.

The decision was made on Wednesday, December 6. You can view the approved application by typing references 221880 and 221881 into the council’s planning portal.

Initially, Sykes Capital applied to convert the upper floors into six one-bed flats, but that was reduced in consultation with planning officers.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre