175 Friar St – Past, Present and Future

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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?

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175 Friar St – Past, Present and Future

The Kennet Mouth Bridge – Calming Troubled Waters

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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.

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The Kennet Mouth Bridge – Calming Troubled Waters