Luxury flats to be built with 'poor door' for block's less-affluent residents 'to be hidden from view'

A block of planned luxurious flats has been given the green light – but only after councillors questioned why there needed to be a “poor door” for the block’s less-affluent tenants .

Reading Council’s planning committee approved plans for 56 flats including 17 affordable homes.

Councillors praised the inclusion of the cheaper housing in the scheme but were dismayed that tenants of the cheaper flats would enter the building through a separate door.

The development is planned for Alexander House, in Kings Road, Reading.

The site at Alexander House, King’s Road, East Reading
(Photo: Get Reading/Google)

The issue was raised by Green Party councillor Josh Williams who said it was “unsettling” that the affordable element of the development was accessed from Rupert Street, Get Reading reports.

He said: “The issue of separate access has been raised in many other places, in London, across the world in New York.

“It has been called a poor door by some in the press.

“A separate access for low income families is not the future Reading that we want and I am sure none of us on the panel want that.

“Hiding our low income families away behind our more luxurious flats at the front, I am sure it is something we do not want.”

Officers told the panel the second door policy was driven by registered providers – those who provide the affordable homes – rather than by the high-end developers.

Keiran Roughan, the borough’s planning manager, explained that a separate access was a way of keeping rents down.

He said: “Over the years we have tried to avoid this situation but increasingly, modern developments are providing concierge services and fairly luxurious entrances and communal space as part of their entrances.

“The registered providers just cannot afford it as it increases the rent so much that they unfortunately are asking for separate access to keep it simple, straightforward, straight into the lifts and up so they do not have to pay for those shared services that increase the rent.”

Councillor Tony Page said the key issue was to ensure separate accesses were well-designed.

“In our planning policy we will not tolerate sub-standard accesses through bin yards or whatever,” he explained.

“The principal of two entrances is something that we will have to accept.”

The panel accepted the officers’ recommendation to approve the scheme.

Councillor Ricky Duveen welcomed the development’s inclusion of 17 affordable units.

He said: “It is amazing. I don’t remember seeing such provision without a fight.”

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