L&Q Homebase & Toys R Us Redevelopment (Kenavon Drive)

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OLDMAN
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by OLDMAN »

IMHO I think it looks quite good, agree about including some larger family style places and some parking etc. -and infrastructure to go with it otherwise all good

I would miss TRUs as often pop in for presents, so hopefully they will re-locate

Can't say I would miss HB as hardy ever used them, as they rarely what I was looking for, and found them expensive compered to other to places
Although, and the last time we went there, was my mother wanted a faux gas fire (fake cols etc. with a fan heater built in) and we went round all the DIY etc. places
Found what we wanted at a good price as discounted at the time in HB at Calcot, but they didn't have one in stock *and wouldn't sell the display one) but reserved one at the Forbury shop

So we had to come all the way into town, with mental Saturday traffic to get it!
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Yola »

Peterson, I hadn't seen the detail of the plans and have just read your article/blog which it outlines your feedback from the developer presentations. I agree that a token 5 houses among a development of 700 homes is laughable. I agree that the site should be a range of mixed use facilities but I still hold strong that the profile of housing should be more diverse and for a development of 700 you could certainly allow 10% of this to be houses. I don't mean Lower Earley types of houses with drives, garages etc., but high density urban terraces.

A bit like the ones that may have stood there a 100 years ago ...
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Mayfield »

My American friend lives in a 'condo' basically terraces surrounded by community grounds...seems a pretty good way of living and open to a wide range of people too...without resorting to high rise...
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by zag »

The development is a housing association as well, so expect a high level of affordable and shared ownership homes.

Excellent write-up as always peterson!
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by chris_j_wood »

Interesting blog post.

I had previously wondered why the bridges to Chocolate Island on the architect's perspective drawing were clearly in a different location to those on their diagram. His comment explains that; they are just made up.

It is a rather smaller development than I was expecting; I'd rather assumed it included the retail area on the other side of Kenavon Drive. Presumably as we speak, some other developer is putting in plans for that.

As for the new riverside square, that will be great if it works. But I hesitate to be too optimistic; Reading has too many examples of similar well intention-ed public spaces that have turned out to be rather barren places with unused or underused retail units (Kennet Island's central plaza, Chatham Place, or even the library side of Forbury Square come to mind). I guess being riverside will give it a better chance than those, but still.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by OLDMAN »

I thought it was just the HB / TRU’s area as there is nothing about the Argos / Hobby Store / Decathlon / McDonalds / buildings going

And that’s how it looks on the developers plans etc. as well
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by peterson »

yeah, it's just Homebase and Toys R Us. I think Decathlon etc have longer leases so they'll be there a bit longer.

Sensible words of caution Chris. Chatham Place never lived up to the early drawings, the decking of the idr was needed really.
I think they need a little bit more than 3 restaurant units to keep this new square appropriately lively - just a couple of shops (one is planned), a gym, maybe another cafe
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by chris_j_wood »

Spoke to the architect at the Riverfest yesterday, and agree with Peterson that he is very enthusiastic and convincing. Learnt a couple of things not previously obvious.

The public square is actually quite small. In depth about the distance between the Homebase building and the river. The architect told me this was deliberate, in order to keep the space lively and mitigate the chances of it becoming 'a bit bleak'. Given my previous concerns, I can sort of understand that. Although I'm sure keeping the density up has something to do with it.

There is a second small public square at the entrance to the development (near the prison roundabout) and the intention is that should have a more practical feel, with a convenience store and a nursery.

The private 'squares' inside each block are in fact at first floor level, with parking under them.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by ReadingT »

Thanks for the blog peterson.

What does "The vision for the site, formerly part of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit factory prior to its current retail life, is to re-capture the spirit of that industrial use" actually mean?

For me, including the island on the visuals for the scheme and not even owning it (meaning it won't be in the final thing) is indicative of what the scheme will eventually be like: half arsed.

Talking to the architect, a biased source, and still managing to find out limitations of the scheme suggests it won't be great.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by peterson »

ReadingT wrote:Thanks for the blog peterson.

What does "The vision for the site, formerly part of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit factory prior to its current retail life, is to re-capture the spirit of that industrial use" actually mean?

For me, including the island on the visuals for the scheme and not even owning it (meaning it won't be in the final thing) is indicative of what the scheme will eventually be like: half arsed.

Talking to the architect, a biased source, and still managing to find out limitations of the scheme suggests it won't be great.
I think his idea is that there will be an industrial feel to it, not just taking the latest glass and steel fashion without due respect to the history of the site. I.e. I think there will be some red brick factory-like buildings within a mixture of styles.

Share some of your concerns. Let's see whether proposals are refined based on feedback (not just mine, obviously!)
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by chris_j_wood »

peterson wrote:I think his idea is that there will be an industrial feel to it, not just taking the latest glass and steel fashion without due respect to the history of the site. I.e. I think there will be some red brick factory-like buildings within a mixture of styles.
He told me that they were hoping that the whole development would be brick. Which will be interesting for the high tower (I think he said that was 16 or 18 storeys). Obviously at that height it will be brick cladding rather than structure, but it might look a bit odd.
ReadingT wrote:For me, including the island on the visuals for the scheme and not even owning it (meaning it won't be in the final thing) is indicative of what the scheme will eventually be like: half arsed.
I think showing it is a bit cheeky. But talking to him, what he is hoping to achieve is the start of a new pedestrian route, and to encourage neighbouring developers to help complete it. The bridges across Chocolate Island (if built) would link to the south-west to north-east 'street' through his development. If the eventual developers of the plot across Kenavon Drive take up that axis, it will link to the recently opened pedestrian underpass to Napier Road.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Pooneil »

chris_j_wood wrote:Spoke to the architect at the Riverfest yesterday, and agree with Peterson that he is very enthusiastic and convincing. Learnt a couple of things not previously obvious....
The private 'squares' inside each block are in fact at first floor level, with parking under them.
Given their opening blurb about meeting the Council's aspirations for housing where cars are not needed, I'd be interested to know how much residents' parking they aim to provide. Obviously there would need to be a degree of visitor parking as well.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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chris_j_wood wrote:
peterson wrote:I think his idea is that there will be an industrial feel to it, not just taking the latest glass and steel fashion without due respect to the history of the site. I.e. I think there will be some red brick factory-like buildings within a mixture of styles.
He told me that they were hoping that the whole development would be brick. Which will be interesting for the high tower (I think he said that was 16 or 18 storeys). Obviously at that height it will be brick cladding rather than structure, but it might look a bit odd.
The cynic in me says that means "until one of the beancounters decides that it's too expensive so they ask to vary the permission to use some cheaper cladding or rendering"...
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by dave m »

All architects illustrations look full of happy people in sunshine and trees, a version of utopia..

After permission a few minor corrections get made and it looks like a secret police academy.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Pooneil »

Yola wrote:Town centres should be so much more than flats for singles/young couples, shops and offices. They should be thriving communities of all types and ages of people, from all walks of life and not just those who can afford to spend £500K on a 1-bedroomed flat.
Unfortunately, it's the town centre, which means that space is at a premium, with housing, offices and commerce all vying for space. And if in that part of town people are prepared to pay £500k for a 1-bedroom flat, then what's the price on a new 2-bedroom terraced house going to be? £650k? £750k? Given the cost of raising kids, if you can buy something similar out in the 'burbs for half that price or less, how many young families are you going to get buying there?
Yola wrote:Peterson, I hadn't seen the detail of the plans and have just read your article/blog which it outlines your feedback from the developer presentations. I agree that a token 5 houses among a development of 700 homes is laughable. I agree that the site should be a range of mixed use facilities but I still hold strong that the profile of housing should be more diverse and for a development of 700 you could certainly allow 10% of this to be houses. I don't mean Lower Earley types of houses with drives, garages etc., but high density urban terraces.

A bit like the ones that may have stood there a 100 years ago ...
Reading is a very different place to what it was 100 years ago. Heck, it's a very different place to what it was 50 or even 30 years ago.
I've had a look at the site on google maps. At the waterfront it looks to be about 200 metres wide. At the widest it's about 250 metres, and at it's deepest it's about 125 metres from waterfront to Kenavon Drive. In terms of area I suspect it comes in at less than 30,000 square metres.
Now let us consider a terraced house with external dimensions of 5.5 m wide and 7m deep - obviously inside it will be slightly smaller because of the thickness of the walls. Now let's give them 5 metres length of back garden, and half a metre space in front, if only so they've got somewhere to put their two wheely bins. So you now have a 2 bedroom terraced house that occupies a plot 12.5 metres deep and 5.5 metres wide. 30 of those come to 165 metres, so that's most of the waterfront gone, and another 40 occupy 225 metres, taking up another strip almost at the widest part of the plot. And the two strips come to 25 metres deep between them, occupying a fifth of the maximum depth of the plot. Obviously that's not the way you would lay them out, I'm just pointing out that it takes up a considerable chunk of the site.
Put another way, these 70 terraced houses take up over 4,800 square metres, or about one-sixth of the plot, for one tenth of the dwellings. I don't have any details on how the current dwellings are shared amongst the various buildings, but I'd suggest that to get another 630 dwellings in with that space given over to houses, they would need significantly taller blocks of flats, or less open spaces, or both.
The problem is that property developers are commercial beasts, and they make much more profit from building flats on a plot than houses. So if they can, build flats they will. It thus falls back to the council to decide whether to allow flats to be built there or demand houses. Unfortunately the council is under pressure to provide thousands of new dwellings, so there's the pressure to go for flats. Plus, if they insist on a significant percentage of houses, then that makes the site less attractive to the developers, which means the cash-strapped council gets less money.
You can also argue that it's about more than money, and the council should take a stand on this point, but I also wonder (and this is pure supposition on my point) if there are not some sort of regulations or requirements on councils to realise at least a certain percentage of the theoretical maximum value of a site - if only to prevent council inefficiency or cronyism. It's the sort of thing I could imagine the successors to the Audit Commission policing. And in which case, again that tilts the development of the town centre towards flats.
The fact remains that unfortunately money does most of the talking, and all the while that the council has to facilitate the building of thousands of new homes and 1 bedroom flats in the town centre go for silly money, then that's what will predominantly be built there. Meanwhile, out in the 'burbs, where you can't walk to a highspeed rail link or future Crossrail station and live without a car, nobody is queueing up to buy a 1 bedroom apratment (unless, perhaps, the bedroom is the size of a ballroom), so houses with gardens and drives/garages continue to be built. It's the same everywhere. Nobody is developing new houses with gardens in central London, and those that do remain cost eye-watering amounts.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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I was in the area today - shopping at Staples and Homebase - and looked around. Way back when, I lived in various flats until time came to live in the 'burbs.... so I looked on the site with dismay at the thought of being obliged to contemplate living there :-? Not even in my 20s would I have wanted to be surrounded by commercial/retail units - what a soulless outlook to wake up to or come home to. But as Poo points out, the Council are pressured to provide accommodation so I guess it's ''Hobson's Choice'' - but what a prospect :(
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Mayfield »

Are these flats going to provide homes for the 22500 people currently on the housing list or just attract commuters from other areas ?

It seems to me that we are building accommodation that doesn't even attempt to tackle the towns housing issues...that seems somehow perverse....
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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Mayfield wrote:Are these flats going to provide homes for the 22500 people currently on the housing list or just attract commuters from other areas ?
I guess at least a percentage would have to be for ''Social'' housing as that is now the rule - but I'd doubt there's not many singles on that list who could expect a town centre apartment - the majority would be surely be families of whatever size - and then, as I think you raised earlier Mayfield, where do those children go to school, the doctor and etc.....
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by zag »

piwacket wrote:I was in the area today - shopping at Staples and Homebase - and looked around. Way back when, I lived in various flats until time came to live in the 'burbs.... so I looked on the site with dismay at the thought of being obliged to contemplate living there :-? Not even in my 20s would I have wanted to be surrounded by commercial/retail units - what a soulless outlook to wake up to or come home to. But as Poo points out, the Council are pressured to provide accommodation so I guess it's ''Hobson's Choice'' - but what a prospect :(
Actually that area is very nice as its by the river. The only reason its depressing is the industrial units making it that way!
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by zag »

Mayfield wrote:Are these flats going to provide homes for the 22500 people currently on the housing list or just attract commuters from other areas ?

It seems to me that we are building accommodation that doesn't even attempt to tackle the towns housing issues...that seems somehow perverse....
The development is being led by the London and Quadrant housing association so yes, a large number of properties will be "affordable" homes. They are the biggest social landlord in London.

A quote from their website tells some more:
Our history is important to us. We are an independent charity set up to house people not provided for by the market
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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zag wrote: Actually that area is very nice as its by the river. The only reason its depressing is the industrial units making it that way!
Isn't that what I just said ... I expect Lots of areas in and around the town were very attractive - until they became built up :whistle1:
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Ollycat »

piwacket wrote:
zag wrote: Actually that area is very nice as its by the river. The only reason its depressing is the industrial units making it that way!
Isn't that what I just said ... I expect Lots of areas in and around the town were very attractive - until they became built up :whistle1:
I'm currently sat in my office, in an industrial unit in Bracknell. Opposite is another office building, then there's 2 new residential units going up, next to which is another office building, then a small housing estate. Behind us is a car dealership, opposite another block of flats and a petrol station.

Point is thats it's very diverse round here, with respect to building types and occupants. And there dont appear to be any empty residential units, and plenty of empty offices...
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by OLDMAN »

Ollycat wrote:
piwacket wrote:
zag wrote: Actually that area is very nice as its by the river. The only reason its depressing is the industrial units making it that way!
Isn't that what I just said ... I expect Lots of areas in and around the town were very attractive - until they became built up :whistle1:
I'm currently sat in my office, in an industrial unit in Bracknell. Opposite is another office building, then there's 2 new residential units going up, next to which is another office building, then a small housing estate. Behind us is a car dealership, opposite another block of flats and a petrol station.

Point is thats it's very diverse round here, with respect to building types and occupants. And there dont appear to be any empty residential units, and plenty of empty offices...
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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zag wrote:
Mayfield wrote:Are these flats going to provide homes for the 22500 people currently on the housing list or just attract commuters from other areas ?

It seems to me that we are building accommodation that doesn't even attempt to tackle the towns housing issues...that seems somehow perverse....
The development is being led by the London and Quadrant housing association so yes, a large number of properties will be "affordable" homes. They are the biggest social landlord in London.

A quote from their website tells some more:
Our history is important to us. We are an independent charity set up to house people not provided for by the market

So let's assume for a moment that these, or at least some will be 'social housing' ...what is the point of them being one and two bed flats ? How many people on the list for social housing are single or with may be couples with one child ...( and there is the school problem again ) I agree with Yola, a more diverse selection of housing would be better for the town....we need for instance to get older people currently in bigger homes into smaller accommodation....are they really going to be happy in a flat there ?
My feeling s that if this site is available it needs more thought as to what Reading needs, not what the developer wants....still I doubt that will happen....
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by dave m »

google earth is pretty out of date.

A lot of the industrial buildings are no longer there and have been replaced by houses haven't they?
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by eddieed »

Looks like Toy's R Us are looking to move to one of the new retail units at Worton Grange - there is a planning application to confirm whether the sales of baby and childrens clothes and accessories is permitted under the condtions of the planning - it states that these are key to Toys R Us.

Interesting move as it isn't that far from Smyths.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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I was in Homebase this afternoon to buy some Bulb Fibre... walked all round the outside gardening Section - No joy. Went back inside where there was one (lonely) assistant filling shelves within the indoor plant section.... asked for Bulb Fibre - a blank look and then very slowly she said Boooolb Fibbbbbre? with a totally blank expression - so walked around again - not another assistant to be seen - anywhere. Proceeded to the till to ask the rather bored female propping up the counter and asked if there was any staff could help - ''what d'yaa want?' and I explained. She called over to the girl on Customer Services asking if there was anyone who could come and help - and reported back to me that someone would be down in a few minutes. Meanwhile I asked when the shop was closing down - ''Oh they haven't applied for planning permission yet and there'll be a lot of work to do the ground before they can build anything else on it, so it'll be a long time yet - if ever!'' So meanwhile you still find lots of people shop here? ''Oh yes'' she said :)) Who-ever didn't turn up, so walked out.

There were no staff and no customers at that point :whistle1:
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Avis »

I have often wondered how that Homebase has survived as long as it has - there never seems to be anyone in there except at sale times.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

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piwacket wrote:I was in Homebase this afternoon to buy some Bulb Fibre... walked all round the outside gardening Section - No joy. Went back inside where there was one (lonely) assistant filling shelves within the indoor plant section.... asked for Bulb Fibre - a blank look and then very slowly she said Boooolb Fibbbbbre? with a totally blank expression - so walked around again - not another assistant to be seen - anywhere. Proceeded to the till to ask the rather bored female propping up the counter and asked if there was any staff could help - ''what d'yaa want?' and I explained. She called over to the girl on Customer Services asking if there was anyone who could come and help - and reported back to me that someone would be down in a few minutes. Meanwhile I asked when the shop was closing down - ''Oh they haven't applied for planning permission yet and there'll be a lot of work to do the ground before they can build anything else on it, so it'll be a long time yet - if ever!'' So meanwhile you still find lots of people shop here? ''Oh yes'' she said :)) Who-ever didn't turn up, so walked out.

There were no staff and no customers at that point :whistle1:
Ironic, I had a wander around there about 11.30 this morning whilst waiting to pick somebody up.
It was the same, hardly any customers & a few staff aimlessly "stacking" shelves.
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by C8H10N4O2 »

Homebase Gardening is THE place to see tumbleweed, it seems. ;)
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by Mayfield »

But not bulb fibre :wink:
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by OLDMAN »

Only ever used Homebase on the odd occasion as I find it easier to get over to Wickes at Winnersh, or even B&Q down the A33 - especially when the town traffic is rammed

One time we had to go was my mother wanted a faux gas fire (with fan heater built in) and they had one at a good price
We battled out way though the Saturday traffic (took 25mins from her house - 1.2miles) only to find they didn't have one in stock, and wouldn't sell the show one even though it was end of line!

They did say we could try the one at Calcot, so I asked could they check stocks to save driving all the way over?


Their reply - oh what a good idea, we'll do that fro you!

Fortunately there was one so we reserved it drove over there - and it only took 30mns to do the 5mile drive!
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by piwacket »

I've been going in there for years, off and on. I've always found their plants very good value and healthy.... and I was in town anyway, so no traffic battle... in fact the roads were remarkably clear - until hitting the Orts Road/Kings Rd junction then it was about 12 minutes to reach Cemetery junction :banghead:
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Re: Homebase and Toys R Us Redevelopment

Post by buseng »

Looks like what the site will turn into.
750 "homes" in a quite confined space?
All the extra traffic pouring onto the Prison Roundabout & beyond.
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