'No chance' of homes on historic Caversham Park site

Image caption The site played host to Antiques Roadshow in June 2016

Developers wanting to build homes on Caversham Park estate "better think again", a senior councillor has warned.

Tony Page, deputy leader of Reading Borough Council, said building properties on the BBC-owned site after it is sold "isn't an option".

Estate agents Lambert Smith Hampton have advertised several "new build" opportunities within the grounds in a sale brochure.

No deal has been made since the 93-acre site was put up for sale in June 2017.

The BBC is selling the Grade II-listed Victorian stately home to save money on property costs.

Mr Page said the land was of "supreme importance" and the council wanted "future uses that respect the listed building".

He said the authority's policy did not allow any additional development, other than the conversion of the house.

"We expect all the open space to be protected and opened up to the public," he said, adding: "This site is probably the second most historic area in Reading after the Abbey ruins."

Image caption BBC Monitoring's headquarters have been based in Caversham Park since 1943, but it will now relocate to offices in London

Lambert Smith Hampton say in the sale brochure that a "study into the scope for new build development within the grounds of the property" had taken place, and "several areas" had been identified for "potential" development.

Philip Hunter, director of the estate agents, said there is "all sorts of potential and possibilities" with the site, adding any development would be "subject to planning permission".

The estate is being marketed for commercial or residential use. No price is being quoted for the property.

It is the home of BBC Monitoring, which summarises news from 150 countries in 100 different languages for the BBC, and BBC Radio Berkshire.

The service has been in operation since the start of World War Two and played a key role in analysing communications from Nazi Germany, and in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

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