University seeks to regenerate town centre brownfield site
Release Date 26 June 2007
The University of Reading is seeking planning consent to start the process of regenerating a brownfield site in the centre of Reading.
The University currently owns several buildings in the London Road area, including five listed buildings, as well as a large plot of land on its Mansfield Hall site, all part of its London Road campus.
Now it has submitted plans to Reading Borough Council to regenerate this site, part of which was the old BT Social Club until it was demolished and turned into a temporary car park.
David Savage, the University's Director of Finance and Corporate Services, said: "The University is committed to the reinvigoration of the academic campus at London Road, and also to opening up the tangible connection between the University and the town.
"Incorporated within this proposal is a commitment by the University to set aside a proportion of the residential development on this land to affordable housing, as well as restoring five listed buildings which face onto London Road. The building formed the original core of the campus in the 1920s before the University moved it main operation to the Whiteknights campus, so we feel we have a deep attachment to this area. We will also be retaining the Victorian and Edwardian frontages of several villas in Kendrick Road.
"We want to be open and say yes, we need to generate funds for the University and this is a good way of doing so – as any organisation would recognise. But we also recognise this is a great opportunity to offer some urban regeneration on a site which has become somewhat dilapidated as well as offer affordable homes in an area where this is sometimes difficult, as well as provide funds to allow us to return the listed buildings on the site to their former glory. So we will be working with Reading Borough Council to make sure this is a beneficial development for us and the local community.
"We think this development will enhance the local area and make the best use of land which is currently scrubland, as well as preserving some lovely historic and listed buildings which form part of our history as well as that of the town."
The University has instructed its architects to keep tree loss to a minimum and to work round ancient trees in all cases. The housing will comprise a mix of flats, townhouses, garage townhouses and mews. In accordance with Reading's policies on sustainable development, the project will make the best use of solar energy, use controlled natural ventilation, promote the reuse of rainwater and use sustainable building materials.
Notes to editors:
More information about this development:
This area is specifically land to the west of Crown Place, off London Road, which can be seen for the most part to comprise the site of Mansfield Hall.
The London Road campus was the original core of the University built in the mid 1920s, with the University being the only university to be granted its charter in the inter-war period. In 1947, the University purchased Whiteknights Park and commenced development there in the mid-1950s and from that point onwards the focus of the University shifted towards the Whiteknights Campus.
As a result of Government pressure, in 1988, the University sold off a major part of the London Road campus, including the Mansfield Hall site and the villas fronting Kendrick Road, to a Japanese college. However, in 2004 the University took the opportunity to repurchase what it had sold to the college. Whilst under the college's ownership little was done to maintain or restore the buildings and in particular the five listed buildings had become very dilapidated and now require substantial repair and maintenance, some of which will be funded by the sale of the brownfield land to developers.
The application comprises three parts:
1. the conversion of six villas fronting Kendrick Road from 43 dwellings to 28
2. the conversion of the two Victorian villas upon which Mansfield Hall was based (on the corner of Kendrick Road and London Road) from five dwellings and hall accommodation to 13 dwellings
3. the provision of 118 dwellings by way of replacement of existing buildings on land fronting London Road and adjoining back land behind several of the Kendrick Road villas.