The St. Patrick’s Hall saga at the University of Reading continues to rumble on, with the latest update being that Member of Parliament for East Reading – Matt Rodda – has backed objections against the proposed redevelopment. The propositions will be presented before Reading City Council’s Planning Committee on February 7th. By the conclusion of that meeting, we should know more. It appears however this story is far from over, with the hall facing an uncertain future, read on for more.
The issue revolving around St. Patrick’s Hall is nothing new. The Hall is one of the oldest at the University, and has fallen well behind the standard of accommodation seen at other Universities. The proposals for St. Patrick’s Hall would be to redevelop it into a hall which would boast almost 900 student rooms. The Hall is located in the same plot of land as Benyon Hall and Sherfield Hall, yet despite using up a lot of space, the hall doesn’t use said space wisely. A modernisation would heavily improve capacity and make it for fit for purpose.
There is a strong need at the University for student accommodation, with halls frequently being over-subscribed. This in the past has led to some students having to stay in hotels temporarily. Concerns in the past have also been raised behind the authenticity of many landlords in private houses in Reading, with students often having negative experiences with private renting. Private halls meanwhile, such as Kendrick Hall and Crown House, are often too expensive and far away from campus. St. Patrick’s is currently the lowest cost hall to rent on campus.
However, opponents to the proposals, which are now backed by Reading East’s MP Matt Rodda, suggest that the proposed redevelopment would have an ‘unacceptable impact’ on the heritage of the surrounding area, namely Northcourt Avenue. Rodda has suggested his constituents are concerned about the effect that the development would have on the local area – which is full of small buildings, which would make the redeveloped hall tower over existing properties. There have also been concerns that approving this hall redevelopment could set a dangerous precedent.
As mentioned earlier, the plans will go before Reading Council’s planning committee, where the next chapter of this long-lasting book will be written. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, however, judging on precedent, with objections from locals, the two parties may well have to compromise on some details before progress is made. It seems as if this story is far from over. That is, unlike Reading’s University Challenge meltdown, which prompted some great reactions.