Thanks to the time and efforts of some friends of Thames Tap, a picture of the future of Reading is emerging – and it ought to raise eyebrows.
After a contribution to our pages by those clever people at Lichfields and a breakdown by the ever-enlightening Reading-on-Thames blog of the Local Plan partial update, something that might pass the average person by, the scale of how the town may change has been spelt out to us.
There’s a significant drive towards increased numbers of houses, increased densities and perhaps most interesting of all, the update notes some specific sites earmarked for housing.
Reading Bridge House, part of the Tesco Extra car park in Napier Road, Aquis House, Reading Link Retail Park and even the Crowne Plaza Hotel are all sites which could be redeveloped for housing or mixed-use schemes.
Also under the draft Local Plan Update, densities of residential schemes in the town centre will likely increase from 100 dwellings per hectare to 200.
And the council says, rather than the previous 689 new homes needed per year up to 2041, Reading will now need 877. RBC is now looking at co-living as an option.
In the current divided society we inhabit, co-living sounds nightmarish. Sharing kitchens, bathrooms or living rooms might help squeeze more people into the space available but the prospect of strangers – or even friends – sharing as much as a fridge in this day and age, can only cause misery.
As soon as the news comes on, all the divisions over Gaza, Brexit, climate and Covid will come, not just to your doorstep, but into your living space.
What this squeezing of ever more people into small spaces illustrates is that the council’s job is increasingly removed from that of serving its population.
The job of councils now seems to include solving the Government’s self-inflicted housing crisis and creating no end of climate alarmism. And you only have to look at council press releases to realise how much time they spend virtue signalling about issues which they are not there to solve.
One direction noticeable in Reading and elsewhere is the loss of car parking spaces.
Oxford has plans to develop pretty much all of its surface city centre par parks, Bracknell has lost its High Street multi-storey and Aldershot is to lose its multi-storey of the same name.
In Reading, space at both Tesco Extras is likely to be redeveloped for housing and the Station car park is already earmarked for development in the Local Plan. And, given the previous loss of Garrard Street car park, it seems every way of deterring driving is being employed.
And this is aside from the bus lanes proposed under the new transport vision.
The Local Plan partial update also talks of the need for more family housing but quite where they might go is anyone’s guess. Just look at how people fought against homes at Reading Golf Club’s old site.
Consultation runs until the end of January. It could be worthwhile for locals to offer their opinions.
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