DAYS after Wokingham Borough Council approved controversial plans to move the town centre library into a new leisure complex at the Carnival Pool site, it has received a proposal to turn a neighbouring office block into homes.
West Forest Gate, which is behind the Burger King site, could become 77 new apartments, 44 would be one-bedroom and the rest two-bed; each would receive one allocated parking space.
There would be three blocks built, each between two and five storeys each according to the plans submitted to WBC.
The design statement submitted says: “The site has an existing four storey 1,900m² circa 1980 pavilion office building and approximately 100 associated car parking and landscaping.
“The proposal would demolish the existing building and replace with 77 flats in three blocks of two to five storey heights, together with associated residential amenity space and facilities and parking.”
The planners acknowledged that the scheme would increase traffic going through the area, something that will concern local residents already worried about plans to build homes further down the already congested Finchampstead Road.
The homes would also include what the developers call “significant amenity space”: “being able to accommodate two to four chairs around a small table” and “communal consisting of a landscaped central courtyard at first floor level over the car parking in addition to the planted areas and pathways around the perimeter of the site.”
But not all residents are happy with the proposals – which come on top of the already proposed housing plans for Carnival Pool and Elms Field.
Marc Bannister, a local resident and Carnival Pool customer, said: “Whilst I am generally in favour of office-to-residential conversions to help solve the housing crisis, I think in this case it is sad and a bit of a shame, as the site used to be a fairground, and they are already building 55 flats on the bowling site, each with just one parking space.
“I would have preferred West Forest Gate to be turned into a community centre, and for the existing library to be turned into offices to replace this one, but I suppose that that building may be turned into flats as well.”
It is not the only objection. A resident of neighbouring Oakey Drive said: “I believe this development will be considerably higher than the current Panasonic building which will therefore impact on our privacy. We will be overshadowed and the properties will overlook ours.”
Another Oakey Driver resident noted: “If the high rise build come at this place there will be no privacy left for us and also roads are not built to take these additional surge of housing.”
The application can be seen on Wokingham Borough Council’s planning portal, by searching for application number 172971.