Guests at 2020’s first Reading Social event heard the newest Station Hill planning application is due to made public imminently.

Developer Lincoln MGT which is currently demolishing the former Friars Walk shopping centre for the first phase of 538 flats, has submitted its plans for the northern section of the site. Those are being validated and are due to be published in the next few days.

Station Hill was among a number of updates around planning and transport proposals and policies, given by Giorgio Framalicco, deputy director of planning, transport & regulatory services at Reading Borough Council, to almost 100 property professionals at UK Prop Social’s January 7 event at Green Park, which was sponsored by Blandy & Blandy. 

Mr Framalicco told delegates the Station Hill application – the next phase of the scheme – will soon be available on the council’s planning portal.

He added: “The north part of the (Station Hill) site is resi-led, with significant office accommodation as well as a food and drink offer and will open up a link from the station through to Friar Street – and then onto the main high street as well – so we are quite looking forward to that main connection.”

That route, he said, will open up opportunities for further regeneration at adjacent sites.

Mr Framalicco told the meeting the council takes pride in the Local Plan, adopted in November 2019, which allows for 16,000 new homes and 330,000 sq m of office space. The authority’s challenge he said, is around placemaking, public realm and ensuring Reading’s various development schemes ‘knit together’.

The council’s bid to buy the Reading Gaol site is currently with the Ministry of Justice and Mr Framalicco said a decision is expected by Spring.

He said: “In terms of the offer, it’s a mixed-use development, accepting there needs to be a viable use for that site to move forward. A mixed-use development that offers up a cultural offer, a visitor attraction etc, is, I think, really important.

“Whether Reading can successfully purchase it is one thing. If not, I think our minds will be to work very closely with the successful bidder in terms of what we can achieve on that site.”

A draft local transport plan is due to be published in Spring following last year’s consultation which drew 3,000 responses. The council is considering options to tackle congestion and air quality issues.

Mr Framalicco said, with the Local Plan now adopted, there is a feeling the council is in a good place.

He added: “We need to make a step change towards our 2050 vision so we’ve got a lot of work to do as we move forward.

“It feels exciting, it feels like the right place to be and it’s very ambitious in terms of some of the schemes on the agenda.”

In a subsequent panel debate Karen Jones, planning and environmental law partner for Blandy & Blandy, said Reading is a great place to do business but could be a slightly better place to live.

She said she is concerned some Permitted Development conversions could lower the quality of the built environment but said the council is aware of the issue.

David Fletcher of Evoke Transport Planning won the prize draw – a bottle of Blandy’s Madeira. The next Reading Social is on February 4 at Winnersh Triangle.

* Image, top (l-r): Matthew Battle, managing director of organiser UK Property Forums; Giorgio Framalicco; Karen jones; David Fletcher and Simon Dimmick, partner, Blandy & Blandy.

* Image, below: Matthew Battle, managing director of organiser UK Property Forums and event host, addressing the meeting.

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