Fiercely-contested redevelopment of the art deco former Adwest Engineering building at Woodley has been recommended for approval.

Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) planning committee meets on Wednesday, May 11 to decide the application by Goya Developments to demolish the building for a 10-unit industrial scheme and officers have recommended approval, subject to a legal agreement and conditions.

More than 4,500 people have signed a petition to keep the 1930s building in Headley Road East which was designed by Guy Morgan & Partners and was originally used for Miles Aircraft production. It is the last remaining intact building of the former Woodley Aerodrome.

Bulmershe and Whitegates councillor Cllr Shirley Boyt will speak at Wednesday’s meeting. She will allocate her three minutes to three key objections.

  1. The 4,551-name petition to save the building
  2. The increase in HGV traffic from the proposed development
  3. Loss of employment for the 140 people currently employed there

Historic England (HE) refused an attempt to have the building given listed status. HE said too little of the original fabric of the building remained since it had been altered over the years.

Following the public objections to its demolition, Goya commissioned RPS Consulting to produce a heritage statement.

It concluded: “The buildings within the site have been assessed for their significance and are considered to lie at the lower end of the spectrum of significance for built heritage assets.”

But Cllr Boyt told Thames Tap: “Despite the fact that Historic England have little regard for the 4,500-signed petition, we feel there should be more respect for the groundswell of public opinion to save the building.

“For the council to allow it to be knocked down in such a cavalier fashion is just not acceptable.”

She argued that the building fronting Headley Road East could be retained and restored for small businesses and start-ups while the factory buildings behind were less important.

The WBC agenda for Wednesday’s meeting states: “It is acknowledged there is a clear level of local concern at the potential loss of the building and certainly Woodley Aerodrome was a key factor in the growth of the area but also in supporting the country during the Second World War.

“Specifically, it is noted a comment submitted critiques the applicant’s heritage statement in not fully acknowledging the development of the site and who was involved.

“Nonetheless, it must be recognised that the buildings have spent a considerable proportion of their lives in wider commercial use rather than for their original aviation purpose.

“In this regard, the buildings are considered to be of notable local significance through specific association with aviation history, however, their isolated and disconnected context, along with their altered condition results in limited visual and public value.”

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