A temporary public event space is expected to be delivered by the end of 2014 / early 2015, alongside new landscaping works undertaken by the Council and the demolition of the existing vacant retail buildings opposite Reading Station.
The outline scheme by Sackville Developments Reading Limited (SDRL), the joint venture between Benson Elliot and Stanhope, is for a mixed-use development of the five acre site, which will provide office space and a range of town centre uses including retail, leisure and residential. In addition, the scheme will allow for the creation of a new public realm, which will comprise a significant public square within the development.
The joint venture’s plans, designed by Allies & Morrison, propose a maximum of around 1,200,000 sq ft of development, principally offices but also 32,000 sq ft of shops, 9,000 sq ft of leisure and c.300 flats, of which a proportion will be affordable housing. In addition, the scheme expects to deliver family leisure facilities within the Friars Walk area, as well as a multi-use leisure facility on the top of the remodeled Garrard Street car park, which will include a five a side football pitch and running track.
Phil Irons, Partner at Benson Elliot, said:
“We are delighted to have secured consent for the redevelopment of this critical town centre site. This is an important milestone in the regeneration of an area that will ultimately be seen as the heart of Reading. We will be starting on site in 2014 and aim to deliver the first of the four office buildings by 2016.
“The Reading office market is supply constrained in terms of grade A space and we believe our scheme will meet the demand for prime, modern and well-located offices.”
Jason Margrave, Development Director at Stanhope plc, said:
“This is a massive step forward for the town centre with huge private investment to transform Station Hill into a new place to work, shop, live and enjoy. This builds on the significant investment already made in Reading Station. We intend to progress with the initial works to start clearing the site early in 2014 and hope to have the temporary public event space ready by the end of 2014 / early 2015, with a first phase office building following shortly thereafter.
“We have included an enlarged public open space in the heart of the scheme with new public realm and leisure facilities. The scheme provides a great opportunity to extend and enhance the retail core in line with the borough’s long term vision and it will also create significant new employment opportunities in Reading.”