In 2015 we submitted a pre-application enquiry to Reading Borough Council and shortly afterwards had a visit from the planning officer, ecologist and tree officer. Their response, although there were concerns about flooding, bats and extra cars, the under tones were positive.
The next step was to instruct an architect. Wolstenholme Ltd were tasked with taking on our design brief to incorporate a cafe, manager’s dwelling and holiday let apartment into the existing footprint of the Wire Mill building. It was very important to retain the features and history of the building to ensure the aspect from the canal was preserved.
We used the plans to submit full planning permission and subsequently received a number of responses from the various bodies that needed to be consulted on the project.
The heritage officer had concerns about the proposed roof shape so in response we incorporated a barreled roof. This was inspired from an early photo of the building.
The other major concern was the perceived risk of flooding. This was quite a task to overcome concerns as getting a third party to gain an understanding of the intricacies of the site was always difficult. Despite being in the centre of a flood plain most of Reading would have to be under water for the building to flood, access to the building flooding is a different matter!
We asked for help from Geoff Mayes who tackled the various concerns and created an in-depth report which we used in our next submission. One of his main points was highlighting the pivotal role of the weir downstream of the Wire Mill on the water levels in Reading. The report commented on how the weir was currently overgrown and unkempt. Following submission of the report to the council clearance work took place on the weir which has been maintained ever since. Correlation or causation who knows!
During this time we responded to other comments and commissioned a number of reports including environmental and bat surveys which we incorporated into our next planning submission.
In November 2017 we received word from the council that they were happy to issue planning permission subject to drawing up a section 106 agreement to legally bind us to a number of conditions primarily relating to access and opening times of the cafe.
The following year, 2018, revolved around the section 106 agreement. It was a fairly long drawn out affair although the main obstacles were ones of process rather than disagreements around the detail. As we had been given a copy of the draft planning document we were aware of the pre-commencement conditions we would be required to fulfill. We used the year to work on satisfying the condition so that when planning permission was granted we could hopefully get started quickly.
In March 2019, the section 106 agreement was finally signed and agreed and subsequently planning permission granted!
We hope to use this as a place to document the progress of the project. Here’s to the exciting bit starting!
Categories: Wire Mill Development