Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Working together for Southcote

Council press release:

Southcote residents are being encouraged to attend two up-and-coming neighbourhood events in the next stage on an on-going discussion with Reading Borough Council about how community facilities for local people can be improved.

Local residents have consistently called for improved facilities in Southcote to cater for all age groups.

A significant breakthrough was made earlier this month when the Council announced community facilities in the area could receive a significant boost if proposals for the possible redevelopment of the former Happy Prospect pub site were given the go-ahead.

Now – as part on the Council's commitment to work better with residents– two events in November will offer local residents the opportunity to get involved with improvements to community facilities. The events -  'Working Together for Southcote' - follow on from a public meeting in July this year led by Rachel Eden, Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods held at the Southcote community centre.

There is a daytime and evening meeting to enable as many people as possible to attend and they will take place in the Main Hall at the Southcote Community Centre, in Coronation Square. 3,500 leaflets are being delivered to invite residents, as well as posters being put up in the local area.

The first 'Working Together for Southcote' meeting takes place on Monday November 14 between 7pm and 8.30pm, with the second on Thursday November 17, between 1pm and 2.30pm.

Reading's Youth Services team and Groundwork will be working with young people to ensure that they can get involved.

Following the two community events, local residents and the council will work together to produce a community newsletter and questionnaire to gather views from local people who weren't able to attend the meetings.

Councillor Rachel Eden said: 'As an administration we are committed to not just giving people a say but getting people involved. I'm hopeful that by working together residents and the council will be able to improve community facilities for all parts of Southcote's community and provide very much needed affordable housing for the area.'

The Happy Prospect pub was demolished earlier this year and a new use needs to be found for the site. The owner, PMC Construction, submitted a planning application for a 100% affordable housing scheme which was then deferred at Planning Applications Committee to enable further discussions with the owner.

On October 31st Reading Borough Council's Cabinet approved a £280,000 social housing grant for a 16 unit affordable housing scheme, subject to Planning Consent being obtained.

A revised 16 unit application is now scheduled to return to Planning Applications Committee on Monday November 9. Any planning permission is however likely to require appropriate mitigation for the loss of the former pub. This could involve securing a contribution towards enhancing existing community facilities elsewhere in Coronation Square, for example.

The creation of additional affordable housing in Southcote - which would include four much-needed family-sized units - would have the added benefit of reducing the need to place homeless applicants in temporary accommodation, reducing pressure on council finances.