University appeals Sibly hall planning applications
Release Date 25 August 2011
The University of Reading has lodged appeals on its planning applications to re-develop Sibly Hall, Earley.
Two applications were submitted in December 2010; one, an outline application for 99 homes (replacing the existing 10-storey student accommodation), and another to install a telecommunications mast on site to replace the existing mast situated on top of Sibly Hall.
The residential planning application is being appealed on the grounds of the failure by Wokingham Borough Council to consider the application within the statutory timetable¹. The separate application for a telecommunications mast is also being appealed, having been refused by the Borough Council in June this year.
David Savage, Director of Finance at the University of Reading, said "The University has put forward an attractive, medium density development that is in keeping with neighbouring developments in Earley and which will create amenity space accessible to the local community.
"Appealing the residential application is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, we have invested considerable time and effort in bringing forward our planning application to Wokingham Borough Council and we are now approaching the end of the period in which we have the statutory right to appeal in the light of the Council's failure to bring the proposals before a planning committee."
The Sibly Hall proposals offer the opportunity to provide much needed housing in the local area, and in meeting Wokingham Borough Council's stated need to build 700 houses per year through to 2016².
The Sibly Hall site is privately owned by the University of Reading and there are no public rights of way over the site. As proposed, this medium density³ scheme would provide new outdoor spaces accessible to the public; including an under 5's play space, kick-about area and access to Redhatch Copse via a network of footpaths.
The Copse would be enhanced by the removal of invasive species, reinstating coppicing and carrying out necessary arboricultural works. A funding stream for improving and maintaining the woodland would come from rental income from the phone mast. The re-sited mast would also ensure continuity of the mobile signal for the area.
The University is concentrating its halls of residence on the main Whiteknights campus and the hall at Sibly, which dates from the late 1960s, will be redundant from summer 2012. For financial and security reasons, the University would like to minimise the time the site is left vacant after that date and is therefore looking for a timely decision on its application. Proceeds from the development of this University land would be reinvested in the education of the next generation of University of Reading students.
For details contact Alex Brannen at the University of Reading on 0118 378 8005 or Nick Chancellor, Meeting Place Communications, on 0118 986 7704
NOTE TO EDITORS
¹ Appealing on grounds of non-determination: If an application has not been determined by a local authority within the statutory timetable (16 weeks in this case) the applicant has a right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, up to 6 months after that time.
² 700 homes per year. Wokingham Borough Council Core Strategy policy CP17 sets out that during the period April 2011 - March 2016, the Council will seek to deliver an average of 700 houses every year. 550 of these new homes will be delivered in Major Development Locations, of which Earley is one.
³ Medium density scheme. The University's Illustrative Masterplan submitted as part of its planning application for the residential scheme provides for a density of 22.5 dwellings per hectare. This is lower than the government's 30 dwellings per hectare (d/ha) target detailed in Planning Policy Statement 3. Density of existing housing surrounding the site ranges from 17 d/ha in the Redhatch Drive vicinity to 30 d/ha in the housing area adjacent to the site's south west boundary. Therefore the new scheme will fit well with the density of the areas surrounding it currently.