Council error means high-rise flat challenge fails

a CGI mock up image of the proposed development
Developer Aviva wants to build high-rise flats near Reading railway station [COLLADO COLLINS ARCHITECTS]

An error made by a council in a High Court legal challenge means 1,000 high-rise flats and shopping units can be built on a retail park.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) raised concerns about finance firm Aviva's plans to redevelop The Station Shopping Park in the town.

The authority previously said it would challenge a decision made on behalf of the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, to overturn a decision to reject the application.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said a procedural error by the council meant the challenge had to be withdrawn, allowing the development to go ahead.

RBC lodged its High Court legal challenge in May, after the Planning Inspectorate turned down the application following an inquiry in 2022 - months after councillors rejected it.

At the time, the council's planning lead, Micky Leng, said government ministers should "not be allowed to ride roughshod over and undermine the local democratic planning process".

The site in Vastern Road is currently occupied by low-rise shops and a restaurant.

Aviva applied for outline permission for buildings of up to 75m (245ft) tall, including 600 to 1,000 homes, offices and retail space.

A spokesperson for RBC said: “Due to a procedural error, the council’s legal challenge relating to Vastern Court has been regretfully withdrawn.

“While the council lodged the application to the High Court in time, service to other parties was not completed on time, resulting in a technical breach of procedure.”

Ministers said in March the proposed high-rise buildings were acceptable.

They said the scheme would deliver "significant economic benefits" as well as housing.

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