The 900 flats planned for Reading’s Forbury Retail Park will doubtless prompt many complaints.

In fact the responses to this week’s planning consultation could be listed beforehand: schools, hospitals, roads, traffic, pollution, loss of retail etc.

However, as Haslams’ Mike Shearn points out, flat dwellers have fewer cars and land is saved by high rise development. There is also the benefit of hundreds of potential customers for local shops or cafes.

An important downside has to be that if those occupants are simply there to catch the train to London, then there is little benefit to Reading. And if they are all going to be Build-to-Rent apartments, which seems likely, that would mean hundreds, or even thousands, more people with little stake in the local area.

Certainly the concept of renting your house, your car and everything else appeals to some, but for others it’s a case of having to rent which leads to a wider, political debate.

Those who want to buy, but don’t have sufficient salary, end up paying rents of between £1,000 and £2,000 a month in these places when a mortgage would likely be cheaper.

Build-to-Rent seemed to take a long time to come to Reading but now it’s everywhere. There seems little prospect of any new town centre blocks of apartments being anything but Build-to-Rent. Instead of being part of the mix, there’s a danger it’s becoming the only game in town.

It’s easy to understand the appeal of living in an apartment which is manned 24/7, where you have an exclusive cinema and other social and communal areas, maybe a gym, and where your parcels can be looked after when you are out.

Haslams has seen a huge market in people coming to this area from Hong Kong and the concept seems popular with them.

But having more options for everyone, especially the young would-be buyers, would surely be preferable.

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