The House of Fraser store in the Oracle Reading could be subdivided into as many as 12 units after councillors unanimously approved removal of a planning condition.

Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee approved an application by owner Hammerson to remove condition 62 from its original 1997 permission which ensured it kept anchor stores at each end of the centre.

The decision at the September 6 meeting means the former Debenhams store could also be subdivided into up to 11 units. That store, however, is already subject to an application which seeks to demolish much of it for a residential scheme.

Cllr Jan Gavin told the meeting: “I think it reflects how we must move with the changing habits of consumers because if we don’t, then we are going to be left with dead space in a regional shopping centre.

“Remember people travel to Reading to use the Oracle Shopping Centre from a large distance and we need to make sure we keep it a vibrant and successful shopping centre and activity centre so not just a shopping centre any more.”

Also agreed at the meeting were plans to replace offices in Bennet Road, Reading with an industrial building.

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive our weekly free journal, The Forum here.