See how redeveloped St Patrick's Hall student accommodation would look20 February 2019
New images showing how enhanced St Patrick’s Hall accommodation for University of Reading students would look have been revealed.
Artist impressions of the proposed upgrade and extension of the student halls in Northcourt Avenue are part of evidence submitted to Reading Borough Council ahead of a public appeal hearing that will determine whether the plans can go ahead.
They show how the new and redeveloped buildings would fit into the streetscape and enhance the existing historic Pearson’s Court. The plans also take into account concerns raised by neighbouring residents, including reducing the height of some buildings.
The University is appealing against the Council’s rejection of the planning application last year, which was recommended by officers for approval. The new accommodation is required due to the rise in demand for halls rooms from students and a need for high-quality accommodation close to Whiteknights campus.
"We have a responsibility to provide more high-quality accommodation, which has a positive impact on students’ university experience" - Professor Robert Van de Noort, University of Reading Acting Vice-Chancellor
The proposed upgrades would bring St Patrick’s Hall into line with other student accommodation on campus, which has been upgraded in recent years. It would bring space currently being wasted back into use and add 98 new trees to the site. The modernised buildings would provide 654 more rooms for students with catered facilities and much-needed increased social space.
'Right design and location'
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Acting Vice-Chancellor at the University of Reading, said: “The existing St Patrick’s Hall no longer reflects the needs and expectations of our students. We have a responsibility to provide more high-quality accommodation, which has a positive impact on students’ university experience.
“We are aware of concerns held by nearby residents and these designs take those into account. We believe this proposal is the right design and location to meet the demands of the community and our students.”
Following the local listing of Pearson’s Court in October 2016, the University withdrew its original application to redevelop St Patrick’s Hall and developed an alternative scheme that incorporates the retained Pearson’s Court and complements the heritage building in the remainder of the site. The new scheme also took on board comments from neighbouring residents with regards to privacy and reducing noise impact.
Furthermore, the University has introduced a Street Support Team, which sees skilled security wardens patrolling streets around the University campus, including Northcourt Avenue, regularly throughout the week. The University has also committed to 24-hour security based on site.
Despite a demographic dip in the number of 18-year-olds in the UK, the University of Reading has 26% more students now than it did five years ago and was unable to accommodate 700 returning students who wished to live in halls. The long-term trend forecasts university application numbers to continue to rise over the next decade.
The plans are supported by the Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU). Dan Bentley, RUSU Welfare Officer, said: “In addition to thousands of first year students, the latest halls applications saw more than 1,000 returning students apply for university accommodation. This clearly demonstrates that there is a strong demand for quality student accommodation outside of the private rented sector. The RUSU Advice Service also helped hundreds of students last year with private housing problems, which may be indicative of the demand for university accommodation that we have seen this year.”
Reading Borough Council’s appeal hearing is scheduled to begin on 19 March.