Plans by S2 Estates to build 44 flats at the former Drews the Ironmonger site in Caversham Road, Reading have been unanimously refused.

Councillors on Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee decided at its  October 8 meeting that the plan which included ground floor retail, meant the loss of a heritage asset and was too tall in a ‘transition area’ of buildings of differing heights.

Officers had previously recommended approval.

S2 wanted to demolish the former malthouse which was occupied by Drews from the 1970s to 2018.

Sam Berg, director of S2 Estates, argued that, despite a marketing campaign by Haslams chartered surveyors, the building could not attract a retail occupier and that the S2 proposal for 44 homes would deliver ‘much-needed’ housing.

The Drews building was locally listed during the summer and a petition was raised in opposition to its demolition.

David Neale from Bell Tower Community Association spoke at the meeting. He asked councillors: “How could the council list the building and recommend demolition only a few months later?”

Cllr Tony Page, lead member for strategic planning, environment and transport,  told the meeting: “The fact is this is a precedent-setting site. Shurgard (a neighbouring occupier to the north) are looking to redevelop. The owners of Pure Gym (to the south) are looking to redevelop and whatever is approved on this site will set the benchmark for those adjoining sites.

“We will hardly have a leg to stand on. Are you going to say ‘oh we will give permission for them but we want lower rise developments on those adjoining sites? Of course not. That’s why this issue of height and transitioning is very important.”

Images: Above: The Drews building. Below: The proposal.

© Thames Tap No 229 (powered by

Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap newsletter here.