After Covid…

sunrise over Kenavon Drive, Reading
Sunrise over Reading. Photo by Caroline Gratrix, Viva Photography

Readers may know this blog promotes the town centre. In the current Covid predicament, clearly the economic health of the high street is far surpassed as a concern by the public health risks of the pandemic. This is not a rallying call to head to the shops at the present time. But perhaps it is a good point to be asking questions about how we might plan for when the sun rises on a post-Covid Reading.

Continue reading “After Covid…”
After Covid…

Bowling, Golf and Food Hall to replace House of Fraser

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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”

Bowling, Golf and Food Hall to replace House of Fraser

Reading Station Shopping Park

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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”

Reading Station Shopping Park

Station Hill, brought to you by the letter E

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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”

Station Hill, brought to you by the letter E

Town centre bids for success

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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”

Town centre bids for success

Centred about Town, with guest opinion

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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”

Centred about Town, with guest opinion

Reading Retail Update – a very Broad Street

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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”

Reading Retail Update – a very Broad Street

5 Reading buildings that could be put to better use

1) The Lower Ship, Duke Street

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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”

5 Reading buildings that could be put to better use

Shipping Container Plans for Broad St Mall

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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”

Shipping Container Plans for Broad St Mall