Planning Inspector dismisses appeal against refusal of Drews redevelopment

71-73 Caversham Road – former Drews warehouse

The Government’s Planning Inspector on 14 May dismissed the appeal against Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) refusal of planning permission to redevelop the former Drews site at the corner of Caversham Road and Northfield Road.

Redevelopment would have demolished the Drews warehouse but retained the buildings at the rear of the site currently in use as offices. The whole site was added to RBC’s list of locally important buildings on 11 February 2020 and so are recognised as ‘non-designated heritage assets’ for planning purposes. Originally built as a complex of three malthouses for Reading maltster Henry Pendlebury Dowson, they have had a variety of uses since malting finished on the site in 1903.

The proposal submitted was for a mixed use development of between 5 and 7 storeys.

The Planning Inspector found that the benefits of the development did not outweigh “…the significant harm the proposal would have on the character and appearance of the area and the significance of a non-designated heritage asset.

The planning application (191792), public comments and all appeal documents including the decision can be found on RBC’s planning website. Although recommended for approval by planning officers, members of RBC Planning Applications Committee (PAC) on 7 October 2020, unanimously agreed to refuse the application.

The proceedings of the PAC can be viewed on YouTube at 47 minutes into the meeting. Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee and the Bell Tower Community Association, in whose area the site is located, spoke at the meeting to object to the application.

The former maltings is a significant part of Reading’s industrial history, in particular that related to brewing. We consider that appropriate and acceptable adaptations and extensions could and should be made to this building for it to be converted to housing.

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