I spotted an interesting planning application on the council’s website this week. The Broad Street Mall is proposing a temporary development of small shops and cafes built out of recycled shipping containers. It’s certainly a change of tack for the shopping centre, which has drifted off course in recent years.
Continue reading “Shipping Container Plans for Broad St Mall”
On Friday, I called into the exhibition showing new development proposals for 175 Friar Street – the former Bristol & West Arcade. The developers appear to be trying to a new tactic of keeping expectations incredibly low. The advert for the exhibition, which was shared on social media, was a grainy black and white image of their proposed Friar Street frontage, which people on reading-forum had assumed must be the building to be demolished! Then they chose to host the event in Novotel. If you’re thinking of hosting a gathering of people potentially concerned with the evolution of modern Reading then the ONE PLACE you don’t take them is Novotel. The high-rise hotel, which has added some life to an area of no-man’s-land between the station and shopping area, did sadly herald the demolition of the art deco ABC cinema. That frontage should have been retained, and Novotel’s upper floors constitute a grey lumpy box that can be seen from miles around. When I entered the event, the bemused town planning consultant found herself listening to complaints about Novotel rather than her proposed scheme. I appeared to have stumbled into a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous hosted in a local boozer – was this going to end well?
Continue reading “175 Friar St – Past, Present and Future”
The East Reading MRT is a proposed bus, cycle and pedestrian link across the mouth of the Kennet to link Thames Valley Park directly to Reading Station. I’ve covered the topic before, but this week there are further exhibitions to coincide with the submission of a planning application. I called by earlier to find out the latest. Opinions were mixed, but it’s fair to say that opponents were more numerous than supporters. There was a make-shift protest stall outside the event trying to garner signatures for a petition against the scheme. I stopped to talk to them too about their concerns.
Continue reading “The Kennet Mouth Bridge – Calming Troubled Waters”
The Kings Road / King Street area of Reading town centre is one of the areas undergoing significant changes. We’ve got banks becoming restaurants, offices changing colour or becoming homes, shops turning into cafes and bars, a King leaving King Street, and maybe even a local hero coming home. In this post I take a brief look at the different developments, with a delve back in time thrown in.
Continue reading “Kings Road – Making a Point”
April was a month of contrasting fortunes for Reading’s two major regeneration projects. Royal Elm Park, a convention centre and hotel complex adjoining Madejski stadium, was enthusiastically approved by the council, to wide acclaim from the business community. By contrast, Station Hill is being put up for sale, which will likely see the proposals back on the drawing board. Since 2005, variations of plans have come and gone. The five hectare site adjacent to Reading Station was supposed to transform the town, but years on it hasn’t lived up to its incredible potential. Station Hill really is the Jack Wilshere of regeneration schemes. Continue reading “Reading’s Regeneration – a game of two halves”
In a departure from suggesting huge infrastructure projects and expensive leisure facilities, in this post I call out a few more modest ideas to improve the image of Reading.
Continue reading “4 ways to improve Reading’s image”
Last year it was announced that the BBC would vacate the 1850-built Caversham Park house, where its foreign media monitoring service is based, and sell off the estate. This week it emerged that the council and the BBC are in dispute over a “Tree preservation order” covering the site. The council has dug in meaning the BBC cannot start clearing the site in an attempt to maximise the appeal to any developer. Continue reading “Caversham Park – Blue Sky Thinking”