Reading community group angry over Drews demolition plan

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Drew the IronmongersImage source, Google
Image caption,
The former Drew The Ironmongers hardware shop was built in the 19th Century

A community group has criticised council officers backing plans to demolish a former hardware store.

Plans for 44 flats at the 19th Century Drews The Ironmongers building in Reading have been recommended by borough council planning officers.

The Bell Tower Community Association (BCTA) said the developmment would "severely compromise the character" of the area.

Developer S2 Estates said the building would provide "much needed housing".

A petition has been signed by more than 800 people to save the building.

It comes after the building in Caversham Road was locally listed by Reading Borough Council in February.

Image source, JTP Studios
Image caption,
Developer S2 Estates wants to replace the old building with an apartment block with 44 flats

BCTA said: "As well as destroying a valuable locally listed building, the proposed development would create a block nearly twice as tall as any surrounding building and severely compromise the character of the low-rise Victorian housing nearby.

"How could a council add a complex of buildings to its local list of heritage assets and less than a year later recommend demolition?"

The Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee and Caversham and District Residents Association have also opposed the plans.

Unlike nationally-listed buildings, locally-listed ones do not have statutory protection but the interest of the building must be considered during the planning process, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Supporting the plan "on balance", council planning officer Brian Conlon said the "overwhelmingly positive" economic, social and natural environmental benefits would justify the loss of the building.

S2 Estates added the new apartment block would draw influences from the existing building and improve the local view of the site.

Under the plans The Malthouse and Brewery buildings nearby would remain as offices.

Councillors will vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

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