Gaol Hype

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The community interest company known as Theatre & Arts Reading (TAR) has today released details of its vision for an arts complex at Reading Gaol.  The 1970’s Hexagon theatre is a true Reading landmark, and is well loved locally having endeared itself to at least a couple of generations over the years.  My childhood Hexagon highlight was the Sooty show, whilst more recently, if I admit it, I do quite enjoy the travelling West End musicals my wife “drags me along to”.  I’m perhaps not the culture vulture that TAR is aiming at, but when I’ve spoken to people who are closer to the arts scene, they tend to complain about the Hexagon. Continue reading “Gaol Hype”

Gaol Hype

East Reading MRT Revised Plans

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The proposed bus, cycle and pedestrian link from Tesco on Napier Road to Thames Valley Park was a prominent issue in the local elections, particularly in its immediate neighbourhoods in East Reading.  Intriguingly, a whole series of revisions to the plans were published the day after the polls closed.  One might instinctively assume this must be cynical timing to prevent “bad news” being released to voters before the election, but I think it is probably more accurately explained by the “purdah” rules that prevent policy announcements in the run up to elections.  In this case, I think the changes would have been positively received by those closest to this issue, and in my view, make the case for this new infrastructure even more compelling.   Continue reading “East Reading MRT Revised Plans”

East Reading MRT Revised Plans

Clarendon House Extension Plans

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Wednesday saw South Street Arts Centre play host to Reading’s latest planning exhibition.  This time around the proposed scheme relates to a fairly nondescript office block and its car park on Watlington Street.  The existing building already has permission for conversion to 49 apartments.  Now the developer wants to build a further 45 flats on the car park. Continue reading “Clarendon House Extension Plans”

Clarendon House Extension Plans

Market Place / Friar St. plans submitted

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I covered this project last summer when the developer “Sonic Star” conducted a public consultation.  I’m pleased to see a planning application now submitted for the scheme.  The site is currently a bit of a mess, although we’re lucky it doesn’t look a lot worse.  The previous regeneration plan actually began construction around 2007 but was quickly aborted – the tower crane came down and the partly-built concrete frame was left unfinished.  Thankfully, that scheme involved retaining the Friar Street frontage, so the abandoned building site has been hidden from view for ten years, rather than being a very public relic of the credit crunch.  Finally, new plans have been lodged. Continue reading “Market Place / Friar St. plans submitted”

Market Place / Friar St. plans submitted

Centred about Town, with guest opinion

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After a lot of interest in my last post about Christmas trade, I thought it would be good to get the opinions of the great and good on the future of the town centre.  To give you an element of relief from my own ramblings, I wrote to some of the town’s movers and shakers to get you some further insight.  I’m pleasantly surprised to have received many great responses, so here you are – the views that matter… ok, and maybe one or two of my own as well. Continue reading “Centred about Town, with guest opinion”

Centred about Town, with guest opinion

Reading Retail Update – a very Broad Street

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In this post, I take a look at the latest state of retail in Reading.  Trying to find out whether local shopkeepers had a successful Christmas season is not entirely straightforward.  Chains provide updates on their national performance, but don’t provide store-by-store breakdowns.  However, we do have some figures published by the Reading BID (business improvement district) on footfall in the town centre, together with some commentary and quotes from retailers.  They’ve given a headline figure of -5.6% vs Christmas 2017, against a national average of -3.8%.  Some of individual comments were interesting: Continue reading “Reading Retail Update – a very Broad Street”

Reading Retail Update – a very Broad Street

In Your Area – a new start for local press?

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Local papers can attract ridicule at times.  The stereo-typical “Cat stuck up tree” headlines are good for a laugh – “Reading man almost wins lottery” is the most comical genuine example I can remember.  But I think the local press is a really important part of the community, keeping us informed, entertained and providing some scrutiny over local councils and institutions.  Last week saw the relaunch of GetReading, the former Reading Post, or former former Evening Post, as In Your Area.  Recent years have certainly seen a significant shake-up in the newspaper industry, local papers especially, and this latest initiative, with Reading as a guinea pig, is a nationally significant development.  Here are my observations.

Continue reading “In Your Area – a new start for local press?”

In Your Area – a new start for local press?