Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Pooneil
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Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Pooneil »

Plans for a major redevelopment which would reconnect with the historic town centre in Reading have been released by the council.
The proposals include demolishing the police station and magistrates' court - and takes in the site previously occupied by the borough council.
Currently at draft stage, the scheme includes new housing, shops, restaurants and a public square.
A 10-week public consultation is expected to begin in mid-July.

Full story on BBC News website
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bert
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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The plans look very ambitious, which I think is great. I just hope they can get the right balance of residential with other uses (retail, green space, public areas). I suppose it's positive that they talk a lot about the 'historic character' and preserving that.

http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/8998/It ... Item11.pdf

hosier street area 1.JPG
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Last edited by johnH on 03 Jul 2018 17:44, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: JohnH sample images added
Yola

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Yola »

I love the quote "The area used to be a historic part of the town centre ...". Yes, before some lovely regency, victorian and even some unique and important medieval properties (Finch's Buildings) were torn down and replaced with shoddily-built ugliness which in turn is now being razed to the ground. There is no historical character there any longer.

Sorry to be so negative but this is going to result in more wind-tunnel walkways lurking in the perma-shade of high rises and creates nothing of note, no single building of architectural merit and nothing which signals 'a future city'. This is on my doorstep and I'm afraid has cemented my relocation plans. A massively missed opportunity which actually makes me very upset, having lived close by for over 20 years.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by bert »

What were you hoping for, Yola?
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by C.A.Versham »

From the sketch plan it looks awful. More flats, no character, nothing to distinguish it from anywhere else, dark voids and wind tunnels. The consultation exercise is merely a formality, the outcomes of which will be roundly ignored.

Will there be a replacement police station?
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Yola

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Yola »

Bert, I was really hoping there would be an architecturally remarkable building as a centre-piece. Many large towns/cities now have recently included some kind of public building (theatre, concert hall, gallery - whatever really), to act as a visual anchor. I was hoping for some indication of landmark residential properties too. I don't object to high-rise per se, however Reading has plenty of cheaply-clad, characterless facades, with more going up on the old Iceland site shortly.

I would also like to see some kind of large and genuinely 'public' space. Have you been to Kingdom Street in Paddington? There are offices and flats surrounding a large sunken grass area with steps perfect for sitting on and the restaurants which skirt the perimeter are effectively under the pavement with only their facades showing. This creates a natural, inward-facing amphitheatre and encourages people to gather. It's great for planned or spontaneous performances.

I know it's a bit hipster, but this area would be perfect for smaller live/work units aimed at artisans (jewellers, designers, start up architects etc). These types of properties can make use of interesting and innovative design concepts as they're not bound by traditions of either domestic or commercial building design.
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Voiceoftreason?
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Voiceoftreason? »

Ditto. Plus a covered or semi covered proper food/produce market would be good.
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Yola

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Yola »

Voiceoftreason? wrote: 03 Jul 2018 15:22 Ditto. Plus a covered or semi covered proper food/produce market would be good.
Absolutely. Sort of a permanent farmers market would be fabulous as well as the existing fruit and veg people.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by bert »

That sounds nice, Yola. I urge you to take part in the public consultation! I have been to Kingdom Street and agree with your thoughts there. Looking at the plans, it looks like they have intentions for public space (page 34), but it does look a bit like lip service ("consider the suitability", "temporary structures" etc). I don't often walk through there, but the Chatham Street development ground level area doesn't seem very nice...I wonder if the draft plans were similar and once the developer has the residential properties secured, the rest of the promises for green and public spaces drift off into nothing...
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by ash »

I wouldn’t really call these plans at all. They’re just guidelines for what the council would like the land to be used for, and massing the scale of buildings.

I remember over 10 years ago, looking at similar masterplanning documents for the station area and the Forbury retail park area, from Reading Borough Council.

It’s now 2018, and I’d say none of those plans have come to fruition and the same buildings are still in the same places. With the exception of western tower being demolished. I doubt (but hope I’m proven otherwise) these civic centre plans will be complete in my lifetime either (in my 20’s at the moment!).
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by D6equj5 »

Yola wrote: 03 Jul 2018 15:25
Voiceoftreason? wrote: 03 Jul 2018 15:22 Ditto. Plus a covered or semi covered proper food/produce market would be good.
Absolutely. Sort of a permanent farmers market would be fabulous as well as the existing fruit and veg people.
And a new Tandy store. And model railways.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by C.A.Versham »

Now you're talking D6. I still miss Eames the model railway shop by the station.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by MickEdge »

I share Yola’s pessimism and I’m not sure any recent developments help. The station area suffers from Yola’s perma-shade, and this week I experienced the windy tunnels around the Chatham St high rises. Lovely on a baking June day, but in January not so much fun. I don’t know why, but I think Reading doesn’t seem to be able get itself taken seriously enough to attract the kind of adventurous architecture and investment that others here are asking for. The difficulty of financing a Hexagon replacement is an example. It’s as though we can’t get out of being a Championship town and into the Premier city league. It might be due to the demographics of the town. It’s a commuting in and out of town, a shopping town, but not where people come because of it’s culture and history.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by OneGorman »

Not all that fussed by these plans if I’m honest. This site is perfect for a new theatre/arena to rival the likes of Wembley and Manchester’s MEN, instead we want to extend the slowly dying town centre. Just seems a massive waste. We could already do without the Broad St Mall, but money continues to be poured into that as well.

Look at Broad Street and Friar Street now. 1/5 of shops are empty because of sky high rent/mortgages. Online trading is killing town centres up and down the country!

Rather then needlessly expand the town centre, how about building a decent arena that will bring in thousands each event, who in turn spend their day and money in the Oracle and shops that are struggling that haven’t yet gone out of business...
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Voiceoftreason?
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Voiceoftreason? »

Good post ONe - although there are plans for a convention centre within RFCs redevelopment along with an ice rink, there is certainly both room and I believe a need, for a theatre/entertainment venue in Reading. It would be great to have the like of Red Hot Chilli Peppers etc performing here and West End shows etc.
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D6equj5

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by D6equj5 »

I agree, there would seem little point in providing areas for more retail outlets when we have so many empty and closing. An arena as VoT suggests or a large theatre - even Wycombe has "The Wycombe Swan". RBC ought to concentrate on boosting the town and not providing even more empty retail spaces ... or perhaps they're gambling on online shopping taking a nose dive ... I can't see it myself though.

Perhaps RBC could open the empty retail spaces and convert them for our homeless as short term housing. I'm sure the Butts would relish new residents. It'd stop the buggers using the library walls and surroundings as their favoured toilet and jacking-up space. It would save me 3 hours of filthy work every bloody day too. What with clearing pee soaked cardboard, needles, poo, old socks and cleaning the mess they leave in our toilets and waking them up as they sleep off their latest hit and moving them on.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by lizwing »

I seriously hope you’re provided with proper protection for doing all that D6, like thick gloves and maybe even a mask. Is this actually in your job description or do you do it because you can’t bear to work surrounded by all that filth?
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Voiceoftreason?
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Voiceoftreason? »

PPH and sharps boxes with long reach grabbers too, I trust D6?
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OLDMAN
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by OLDMAN »

Totally agree about the bleakness etc of Chatham St high rises after having to live there for a few months

It was mid-January last year when we moved in, so had snow / rain / wind etc………really horrible place to be at that time

Wasn’t much better even when the sun did shone!


So definitely don’t want anything more like that in this town
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by dave m »

A large venue wouldn't fit into that space unless an unrealistic amount of land was dedicated to it.
Reading also suffers from the "too close to London" syndrome.
There are plans to develop "something" at the football stadium
I am still convinced that the prison site is the best place for a hexagon replacement, and of the opinion that the council could try to swap development land from the civic area for the prison with either the MoJ or purchaser of the prison if it went ahead.

RBC could still indicate the future use of the site as now. You need to bear in mind that (presumably) the site is shared between the council, TVPolice, and whoever owns the magistrates courts (council or MoJ?)
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MickEdge
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by MickEdge »

It won’t happen, but it could be turned into a decent sized park, which could link up with a grass roof over the IDR. In my dreams! The plans have loads of examples of developments softened by a lot of greenery. It all looks very good, but when I crossed the station concourse today I could see how it will probably turn out for Hosier St. Still we can look forward to great big video screens there, like the one they want to erect at the station.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by lizwing »

The plans for Reading station looked lovely, trees,open spaces, happy people wandering around in the sunshine or sitting drinking coffee. Has it turned out like that?
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piwacket
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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Yola wrote: 03 Jul 2018 14:39 I love the quote "The area used to be a historic part of the town centre ...". Yes, before some lovely regency, victorian and even some unique and important medieval properties (Finch's Buildings) were torn down and replaced with shoddily-built ugliness which in turn is now being razed to the ground. There is no historical character there any longer.

Sorry to be so negative but this is going to result in more wind-tunnel walkways lurking in the perma-shade of high rises and creates nothing of note, no single building of architectural merit and nothing which signals 'a future city'. This is on my doorstep and I'm afraid has cemented my relocation plans. A massively missed opportunity which actually makes me very upset, having lived close by for over 20 years.
Hear! hear!

It’s all too late to “re- connect” - the RBC of the time in the 60s made sure of that B|
It has always seemed that it is part of the job description to be a Councillor, to have had a “Common Sense and Artistic Lobotomy”.

IMO the old adage of being “too close to London” has had its day now. Gone are the days when one could ‘pop up to Town’ either by car or train for an evening,out as I/we did. The M4 is chokka, the trains are unreliable and often filthy and the prices of tickets for a London Show (of any kind) are prohibitive...

So time for Provincial towns to step in and offer some decent entertainment without too much hassle involved in getting there, and create a decent Arts (all of them!) Centre.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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:goodposting:
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by dave m »

To clarify- part of the "to close to London" issue isn't punter accessibility.

I have worked in the entertainment industry and touring companies don't want to move 30 miles to set up again.
The whole logistics thing works on having a large capture area, and generally venues also have a "market" that they defend so that an artiste cannot perform within x days and within x miles- the same way that markets (as in ones with stalls) are protected by charters that prohibit another operating nearby

It is common sense as the theatre/venue needs to guaranteee that a catchment area of fans will attend their venue. Also the touring company needs to ensure ticket sales are at capacity as it's a mix of finance and not wanting to play to half houses.

Most London theatre is long running - not much tours apart from music and a bit of dance. Dance venues have specific needs, and music relies either on historic small venues (which are being eaten by developers) or mega venues that will never fit into a regional venue.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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:goodposting:
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MickEdge
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by MickEdge »

Interesting perspective, Dave m, thanks. I adhere to the “too close to London” being one factor that limits what is developed and can thrive in Reading. I used to commute to London, but now it’s just visiting for cultural or family reasons. I don’t find the fares or public transport that bad, as I can travel off peak. I’m always impressed how easy it is to move around the capital and what there is to see and do.

For decades, Reading has provided all I needed for shopping, but for culture it still has to be London or Oxford. It’s a big ask to see Reading competing with them, but I’m sure more could be done if the money could be found and there was sufficient public will. These current plans however show some lack of public will, which only reflects modern society and our reluctance to invest in these things. Reading has chosen that route for centuries and probably more so than other towns. Maybe because there wasn’t sufficient historical or cultural tradition to protect. However, from an economic point it has served the community well, but not in other ways, perhaps.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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This “too close to London” is really not an excuse for having nothing in Reading


Two reasons - IMHO

Many years ago we used to get some good stuff in Reading, when the Hexagon first opened some decent acts played there, we went to quite a few
Also saw many big names at Reading University

Secondly we also went to a few concerts etc at Milton Keynes Bowl, Stevenage Concert Hall, Guildford Concert Hall and a few others – many further to travel from Reading than to London itself

BUT………. They are all about the same distance as Reading is, from London
And often easier to get to

Saw David Bowie at Wembley and that was bad for the journey / parking etc – but saw him twice at MK Bowl all very easily even though a longer journey
Oldman........

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me........................

I hug everybody –
It’s not affection, I’m just measuring up how big a hole I need to dig for the body!
Yola

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Yola »

I saw Bowie at MK Bowl in 1983. One of the best gigs ever. Nile Rogers was on guitar. Awesome. However, I do digress ...
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by OLDMAN »

Yola wrote: 05 Jul 2018 09:36 I saw Bowie at MK Bowl in 1983. One of the best gigs ever. Nile Rogers was on guitar. Awesome. However, I do digress ...
What day?
Oldman........

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me........................

I hug everybody –
It’s not affection, I’m just measuring up how big a hole I need to dig for the body!
Yola

Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by Yola »

OLDMAN wrote: 05 Jul 2018 09:46
Yola wrote: 05 Jul 2018 09:36 I saw Bowie at MK Bowl in 1983. One of the best gigs ever. Nile Rogers was on guitar. Awesome. However, I do digress ...
What day?
OM - I can't even remember what month (though I suspect it may have been July), let along what day!!
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by jonbryce »

If we are going to extend the shopping area of the town centre, it should be towards the railway station rather than in the other direction. Having said that, when you look at Friar Street, West Street, and Station Road, and the Argos end of the Butts Centre, I don't really think Reading is big enough for the town centre shopping area we have at the moment, never mind a bigger one.
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

Post by chris_j_wood »

I think the future of bricks-and-mortar retail, if there is to be one, is that it has to become closer to leisure and entertainment. Both in philosophy and location. It has to make going out shopping something people want to do, rather than something they have to do.

There have always been elements of that in retail, with department store traditionally having restaurants and cafes even back pre-war. But I think there needs to be a lot more thought put into it now. Some of that includes the environment nearby, with parks and gardens helping to attract visitors. You can see that today in the Forbury Gardens, but if this part of town is to pull its weight, it needs something equivalent.
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OLDMAN
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Re: Plans to reconnect historic Reading town centre released

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Yola wrote: 05 Jul 2018 10:00
OLDMAN wrote: 05 Jul 2018 09:46
Yola wrote: 05 Jul 2018 09:36 I saw Bowie at MK Bowl in 1983. One of the best gigs ever. Nile Rogers was on guitar. Awesome. However, I do digress ...
What day?
OM - I can't even remember what month (though I suspect it may have been July), let along what day!!
No worry, I know we went on the Friday 1st July 1983 - it was the Serious Moonlight Tour

Remember it very well as a sweltering hot day and during the support acts (Icehouse and The Beat) I went for water which meant a L O N G queue, but my nose started bleeding, and wouldn’t stop

Ended up in the St Johns tent with talk of going to hospital!

Fortunately it stopped so went back - about 30mins before he started (just caught the end of The Beat)………but at least got a bottle of nice cold water from St’J’s - just in case it started again :whistle1:

OH wondered where I had been, then nearly had a fit when she saw me, as my T-shirt was red all down the front – changed to a DB one I had bought earlier!



Sorry for being :offtopic1:
Oldman........

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me........................

I hug everybody –
It’s not affection, I’m just measuring up how big a hole I need to dig for the body!
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