Driving lesson

Reading driving test center could be replaced by 18 flats

Reading’s driving test center could be demolished to make way for 18 flats.

Last year developers Maxika Homes submitted a plan to replace the driving test center at 220 Elgar Road South in Katesgrove with a four-storey building containing 18 apartments.

However, the application was refused by Reading Borough Council’s planning department on 6 December 2021.

The plan was turned down for a number of reasons, criticized for its ‘poor and unsafe choice of layout’, lack of information on affordable housing and ‘substandard’ bike storage which would be ‘at risk of burglary’.

The bike shop would have been built next to the entrance to the new building and would have 10 spaces.

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The app has also been criticized for being too large compared to neighboring buildings.

The building would have been three and a half stories high, with five apartments on the ground floor, six on the first floor, five on the second floor, and two on the third floor.

A report on the application recommending denial was prepared by Planning Officer Claire Ringwood.

A design for the building that could replace Reading Driving Centre. Credit: Sawkings Harper Architect

For their part, the developer’s planning officers argued that the current test center fits “uncomfortably” with the surrounding buildings, being one-story, while neighboring buildings are two to three stories high. .

Officers added: ‘This issue is exacerbated by the flat roof shape of the existing building compared to the dominant pitched roof shapes found on the west side of Elgar Road.

“The combination of these factors means that the existing building looks out of proportion on the street and disrupts the overall character of the area.”

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The call, which went out on May 27, means development could still continue.

No documents for the call have yet been submitted.

If the refusal is overturned, Maxika Homes would be allowed to build the 18 apartments, consisting of eight one-bed, seven two-bed and one three-bedroom apartment.

Reading Chronicle: Site development for the Reading Driving Center replacement project with 18 apartments.  Credit: Sawkings Harper ArchitectsSite development for the project to replace the Reading Driving Center with 18 apartments. Credit: Sawkings Harper Architects

It would have 10 normal parking spaces, an electric vehicle charging space and a disabled bay.

You can view the application by typing reference 210526 into the council planning portal.

The Reading driving test center is currently in use, with fears it will close until 2019.

Indeed, the center was supposed to close in May 2020, but it reopened in the summer of that year and has been in use ever since.

However, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is expected to find new premises in Reading if the plan is approved on appeal.

Other nearby driving centers are located in Newbury, Farnborough, Basingstoke and Slough.