New Century Place Reading, Student Accommodation

We were approached by high-quality student accommodation provider Studious, to provide initial advice in relation to the potential conversion of Buildings 1 and 2, New Century Place, Reading.  After advising that the building could be converted from Class B1(a) offices to Class C3 houses under permitted development rights, we then prepared and submitted two Prior Approval planning applications, for Buildings 1 and 2, New Century Place. Both applications were approved to build 133 (75 and 58 respectively) high quality student accommodation units which would serve students of Reading, primarily those attending the University of Reading. 

We also worked on their behalf to secure planning permission to convert the car park associated with Buildings 1 and 2, into a further 116 high quality student accommodation units. Having been initially refused planning permission by the Council on the grounds of perceived issues relating to design, potential impact upon the Conservation Area and overall need, we submitted an appeal on the grounds that the proposal would result in an enhancement to the Conservation Area, when compared to a redundant carpark.  An informal hearing was conducted in July 2018 where the Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), accepted and allowed the appeal in August 2018.  The new student accommodation is now under construction and is hoping to receive students for the 2020/21 term. 

Inspector Simon Warder from the Planning Inspectorate concluded “I have found that the proposal would result in a minor enhancement of the CA. Since this is a benefit to a designated heritage asset, it carries significant weight and balances the harm to the settings of the listed buildings.”

Project Details

  • Three buildings providing a total of 249 student accommodation units
  • Two prior approval conversions of former office buildings under permitted development rights
  • One new four storey PBSA refused by Reading Borough Council and subsequently allowed via appeal
  • Site partially situated within Flood Zone 2 – a sequential test was undertaken to prove this is the most suitable available site
  • Site situated within the Market Square/London Street Conservation Area, requiring consideration of Listed Buildings along within the vicinity and impact from the proposal – this became the main issue during the appeal
  • Permission for a new substation was consented to serve the increased demand arising from the three buildings