Berkshire

Flats plan for former Reading swimming pool site

Arthur Hill Memorial Baths in Reading Image copyright Google
Image caption Arthur Hill Memorial Baths opened in November 1911

A former community swimming pool could be turned into affordable housing for key workers after a failed bid to sell it to property developers.

Teachers, nurses, police officers and social workers would all be eligible to live in the 15 new flats at the Arthur Hill pool site in Reading.

The borough council said it would build the flats and rent them out at 80% of market rental rates.

But campaigners said the new plan was "extremely disappointing".

The pool building on Kings Road in east Reading was built in 1911 on land donated for community use by the family of Arthur Hill, the mayor of Reading between 1883 and 1887.

It was closed in December 2016 and put up for sale after councillors deemed it too expensive to maintain.

'Poor location'

In 2018, OOAK Developments was chosen by the council as its preferred bidder, with plans to build private residential flats on the site.

However, that sale fell through in July.

It followed months of protests over "secrecy" surrounding the sale, with campaigners urging the council to hold a public consultation.

Council leader Jason Brock said teachers, nurses, police and social workers in Reading "all struggle" to find affordable homes to rent.

The flats could be available to rent just two years after planning permission was granted, he said.

Campaigner Peter Burt said there was a need for affordable housing in Reading, but described the Arthur Hill site as a "poor location".

Mr Burt added the council had not "twigged" that closing down leisure facilities had an impact on more than "the lucky half-dozen" who would live in the new flats.

The council said it was committed to providing a new pool in east Reading.

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