A planning condition which prevents the subdivision of department stores at Reading’ Oracle shopping centre is set to be removed, allowing new uses for the House of Fraser unit.

Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee will decide on Wednesday, September 6, whether Oracle owner Hammerson’s application to remove clause 62, which seeks to keep its anchor department stores at either end, can be removed.

Officers have recommended approval for the application to remove the clause which was put in place when the Oracle was first given planning consent in 1997.

Instead, Hammerson wants flexible Class E usage for both House of Fraser and the former Debenhams store with a minimum unit size of 1,000 sq m. It would mean the House of Fraser’s current 12,188 sq m store could be divided into up to 12 units while the 11,202 sq m former Debenhams could accommodate up to 11.

However, a report to Wednesday’s meeting says the subdivisions could be horizonal or vertical. An application to demolish much of the former Debenhams store and the Vue Cinema for a development of flats, new cinema, workspace and retail, has still to be determined.

Hammerson says the latest proposal would allow existing retail occupiers to expand into bigger units while freeing up smaller units for new occupiers.

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