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”
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”
Poor air quality in East Reading hit the local news this week. The giant biscuit factory that once dominated the area has long gone. In a town with minimal industrial activity, the modern culprit is vehicle emissions, and especially those from the idling traffic along Kings Road that has gradually deteriorated from a brief peak-time issue, to virtually ever-present. In a town renowned for its congestion, Cemetery Junction is Reading’s flagship traffic jam. A third bridge and investment in public transport are clearly the focus for a solution, but I think we should look closely at how we use our limited road space to keep things moving better. The current situation is bad for residents, visitors, commuters and the environment, and I think we should explore other options. Continue reading “Cemetery Junction – Ending the Gridlock”
Last Friday I attended a public exhibition at the Town Hall for revised proposals for the development previously known as Swan Heights to be built on the former BMW site on Napier Road. Here’s what I picked up, and some follow up thoughts… Continue reading “Swan Heights, the Thames and a Tunnel”
This week I attended a public consultation on the East Reading MRT. MRT stands for mass rapid transit. The proposal is for a new link from the big Tesco’s on Napier Road through to Thames Valley Park, including a bridge over the Kennet. A new park & ride scheme would be based at the eastern end. The media have picked up some local opposition to the impact to the riverside, but I think they miss a bigger picture. Continue reading “East Reading MRT – widening the debate”
You can’t write a blog about Reading without tackling the longest standing local talking point. Awful traffic jams on all approaches to the existing Caversham and Reading Bridges are the bane of lives both sides of the river – it’s not hard to see why more capacity is needed. When it comes to Reading’s Third Bridge saga, the only difficult question to answer is for exactly how many decades this idea has been discussed and procrastinated: I’m afraid I can’t do any better than ‘many’.
Continue reading “The Third Reading Bridge”
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”