Councillors agreed to press ahead with plans to seek a development partner to bring forward the Minster Quarter regeneration project in Reading.

Reading Borough Council’s policy committee agreed to look for interest in the scheme at its June 14 meeting.

Cllr Tony Page, lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, praised the approach of Moorgarth, owner of the Broad Street Mall (which falls within the Minster Quarter), which is also seeking a development partner. Moorgarth, he said, has engaged with the authority proactively and presented a welcome contrast to the previous owner.

One of the key aspects of Minster Quarter regeneration, which includes around 1,100 new homes, is decking over the Inner Distribution Road (IDR) which Cllr Page said offers the opportunity for additional, high quality, public realm.

He said: “The idea to deck over the IDR is not just to cover an environmental catastrophe, but it’s also the potential to provide that additional open space that could then justify, and relate to, a higher density development on the old civic site and the area around it.

“But, in order to deliver this, we need help and advice and also finance and that is the purpose of this report, to take forward a mechanism for us to secure, initially, expressions of interest, but then hopefully, a new partner, to bring expertise and resources to the table.”

The council, he said, has limited resources beyond the value of the land.

He went on: “I don’t think there will be any shortage of interest. Reading has always been an attractive place to invest in.

“It’s a challenging site but the levels of interest in key sites in and around the town shows that potential. So I think we can look forward to some quite interesting interest in this proposition.”

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