Primark has pulled out of an agreement to lease part of its former store in Reading to the council for a cycle hub.

Reading Borough Council’s planning applications committee approved its own proposal to use 154 sq m of the ground floor of the building in West Street which has been empty for six years and has the company’s head offices above.

It was to house 82 secure parking spaces for bikes and a cycle loan/donation scheme. The scheme has been funded for the first year by the Department for Transport but the council planned to be there for three years.

But talks between Primark and the council have stopped after the retailer said it did not wish to proceed. The council says it is hugely disappointed and has written to Primark for a more detailed explanation. It is now seeking a new site and has asked REDA, Ethical Reading, The Reading Bicycle Kitchen and Avanti to assist its search.

Cllr John Ennis, lead member for climate strategy and transport, said: “This is obviously hugely disappointing news for the council and Reading’s cycle community having invested so much time and energy in this particular location for a cycle hub.

“There will be understandable frustration Primark has pulled out of the project at this late stage, and we entirely share that frustration.

“The council now intends to move on swiftly and work to identify an alternative town centre location where a cycle facility can be progressed – a site which works for the council, the property owner and, most importantly, for cyclists.

“We will be talking to building owners who have previously expressed an interest in getting involved. However, if you know of somewhere which might be willing to work on this project, please get in touch.

“Cycling, alongside increased use of public transport, is a key element in this council’s ambition to reduce congestion and poor air quality and to create a healthier town for everyone. Secure cycling facilities will also be an important aspect of our overall vision.”

Primark declined to comment.

Image: Google.

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