Development of the former Drews the Ironmongers building in Reading looks set to go ahead despite misgivings over its affordable housing mix.

Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee will consider the latest application by S2 Estates to partially redevelop the Caversham Road site, along with conversion of much of the existing building to create a total 29 flats and 318 sq m of retail, on Wednesday, March 29.

The scheme is the second version of the redevelopment after plans to replace the Drews building, a former malthouse, with 44 flats was rejected by the council on heritage grounds in May 2021.

It has since been locally listed. However, S2 Estates came back with the new plans in August 2022.

Councillors met to discuss the new scheme on March 1 but the item was deferred for discussions on tenure mix of the affordable housing element which is eight homes of the 29.

Although the scheme was recommended for approval the council wanted some rental properties among those, rather than all the affordable homes being shared ownership.

Eight rental management providers were approached by the developer and all responded that incorporating rental homes is unfeasible due to their own management requirements.

A viability report on behalf of S2 Estates by Quod stated: “It would not be practically feasible to deliver any rented homes on-site.”

Approval is still recommended at the March 1 meeting providing a s106 agreement is signed by April 21.

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