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”
A year ago I set out half a dozen hopes and expectations for 2016. I think we’ve managed three out of six. Let’s take a look at what’s been ticked off, and throw in a few extra things to look out for in 2017. Continue reading “A look ahead to Reading’s 2017”
Last month, Thames Valley Property reported that Next is to relocate from Broad Street to The Oracle next year. It could turn out that 2017 is a difficult year for Reading’s retailers, but could this be the time to look to the future for our central shopping area. Continue reading “Where Next?”
Whether it be for Queens, Kings or Friars, it seems Reading isn’t very good at “Walks”. This simple suffix seems sufficient to ensure failure – in Reading it’s a jinx. Here I review their recent tribulations and take a look at plans and possibilities to get them walking tall.
Continue reading “Walking the Walk – Queens, Kings & Friars”
This week a ‘screening opinion’ – a kind of forerunner to a planning application – has been submitted for the closure and redevelopment of Homebase and Toys R Us. The proposed scheme would see an incredible 800 homes built on the site in blocks of up to 19 storeys. Read on for some views and my typically optimistic vision as to how this whole area could be improved more substantially.
Continue reading “Throwing the Toys out of the Pram”
What is #Reading2050?
A couple of weeks ago I attended an exhibition in town called Reading 2050. The initiative seeks to create a vision for the development of the town. Their representative was an enthusiastic Scottish lady who talked visitors through some glossy but fairly non-specific visuals. Their document talks of three alternative visions:
Continue reading “Reading 2050 -The plan for the Tram”
The Broad Street Mall was purchased by new owners in May 2015. Since then we’ve heard nothing of their plans for the site. That is until this month when a planning application has been submitted to the council. Sadly the limit of the ambition, at this stage at least, is to re-brand the signs on each of the entrances to the mall. So let’s take this opportunity to give the new owners some ideas on how they could bring vast improvements to this part of Reading, and potentially make some money along the way. Continue reading “FAO the Broad Street Mall’s new owners”