Reading’s long wait to restore town centre ten-pin bowling could be about to end as Hammerson submits a radical proposal for a leisure-led makeover of its House of Fraser department store. Plans also include a food hall, an indoor golf complex, a new cafe on Bridge Street, and some remaining retail space inside the mall. Undoubtedly the most significant development at The Oracle since its final phase linking to Broad Street opened in 2000, let’s take a look at the plans and how we’ve ended up here. Continue reading “Bowling, Golf and Food Hall to replace House of Fraser”
The latest planning exhibition last week featured plans for the TGI Friday/Mothercare/Aldi/Range units on Vastern Road – technically Reading Station Shopping Park, as absolutely nobody calls it. We could be looking at upwards of 900 apartments, although plans are fairly vague at this stage, and if office space is included at the eastern end (as shown) and/or a hotel at the western end then that number could reduce considerably. With an imminent planning application only at the outline stage, further stages could see the plans refined within the broad layout and building heights being proposed now. Continue reading “Reading Station Shopping Park”
The story of Station Hill is well documented. In fact, it would be hard to dispute after 15 years that it’s progressed from “story” comfortably into “saga” territory. I certainly feared the next re-classification might be to “myth”. Yet this week, finally, firm new plans have been published. The proposals relate specifically to the Friar’s Walk plot, where a disused shopping arcade has been boarded up since 2004. Continue reading “Station Hill, brought to you by the letter E”
Would you vote for an extra tax? You might be surprised to hear a voting process is underway right now in Reading for exactly that. It’s a simple Yes/No referendum. On this occasion, it’s not residents being polled – frankly nobody’s in a hurry to ask the public to make any more binary political choices at the ballot box. But thankfully it’s not us being taxed either. The votes on two separate town centre “Business Improvement Districts” (BIDs) ask local employers to agree, by way of a majority, to a 1% levy on their business rates (taxes) to fund a range of initiatives to “enhance their trading environment”. Continue reading “Town centre bids for success”
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”
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”
A new year is upon us, and an unmissable chance to revisit some of last year’s highlights and to look ahead to what might be making waves in 2018. Continue reading “A big shout out to 2018”
1) The Lower Ship, Duke Street
Any list of misused buildings in Reading has to start with The Lower Ship on Duke Street – a pub/hotel that’s been boarded up since the late eighties when it was sold to Yorkshire Brewery Samuel Smith’s. Continue reading “5 Reading buildings that could be put to better use”
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”