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Brocket set to be converted to flats under council plans

A consultation into a historic Grade II listed building gave an insight into the council’s plans to convert it back to residential use.

The Brocket, in Boyn Hill Avenue, is set to be used as five flats with the possibility of two ‘small’ two bed cottages being built at its rear, according to the RBWM Property Company managing director Barbara Richardson.

She was at the public consultation on Thursday, June 27, to speak to visitors about the plans for the vacant building.

“The idea is to bring it back to residential use, which was its starting point anyway,” she told the Advertiser.

“The idea is to convert it sympathetically, so we want to retain as much of the internal features as we possibly can, make sure we improve the external because it’s a Grade II listed building, and convert it into five apartments, and then (explore) the possibility - subject to planning - of actually putting two small cottages just to the rear of the property.”

The property will have six parking spaces outside – one for each flat plus a visitor bay – and the cottages will have their own access from a side road.

The entrance hallway will remain as a communal space, and the garden will also be available for residents in the new flats.

Ms Richardson said the consultation showed an appetite to see the Brocket – which served for a time as a children’s referral unit – brought back into residential use.

“It’s been pretty positive, I think we’ve only had one slightly negative comment from someone who was a bit concerned more about trees going into their garden and stuff like that,” she said.

“Most people are really keen it comes back to residential and they are actually really supportive of the conversion because most people have said it’s a really big property.

“So as a single dwelling it would probably stay empty for a long time before you found the right kind of family that wants a dwelling this size, and if you want a dwelling this size it’s over 4,000 sq ft – you probably want it on a bigger plot than what it’s currently on at the moment.”

The Brocket was built as a private home in 1906, bought by the old Berkshire County Council in 1950.

It is listed with Historic England, which described it as a ‘substantially intact and decorative early 20th century house displaying ‘arts and crafts’ influences’.

Ms Richardson said there had previously been talk of handing the Brocket over to community use, or turning it into a museum.

“The problem is the building doesn’t really lend itself to that,” she explained.

“It’s quite a complex building to maintain and look after so community groups are probably not the best to do that.”

The conversion will help the building long term, she believes, because the RBWM Property Company will be able to look after it.

The company is looking to bring in a contractor that specialises in working on listed buildings. It hopes to submit the plans and gain permission on them by the end of the year and begin work in early 2020.

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