If there’s one thing Reading’s Broad Street Mall is becoming noted for it is the long list of plans that never came to fruition there.

So many owners over the years have tinkered with the mall but none have done anything radical or transformational. The big changes simply never seem to happen. So there would seem good cause for cautious optimism over the latest sale.

Although, to be fair, there was great optimism when plans were unveiled for a shipping container market at the mall’s Southern Court a few years ago. That has now been superseded by the Blue Collar Corner across the road from it. Then there was going to be a new food court concept called Union Square at the former 99p store but little happened.

Ironically, the food court idea was once a big success at the mall. Going back a few decades its Circle Food Court on the first floor not only seemed to work well but succeeded in attracting people to go upstairs.

For some reason it was scrapped in favour of four separate, well-known restaurant brands which all failed miserably.

Around that time there were plans to open up the basement where shops had once existed and where The Target pub had once been. It was suggested that a cinema could open where the pub was and there was once even talk of a swimming pool down there.

At our own UK Property Forums events, the current operators told us of plans for markets in the central square, such as by independent online retailers who currently sell on eBay. Again, very little happened.

And now, property figures in the area who know a good deal more than us about the task of building blocks of flats, assure us the 422 flats the mall has permission for, are quite unfeasible. So, even though those have planning permission, it would seem the new owner will likely go back to the drawing board.

But given the acquisition has come about while the council is still searching for a development partner for Minster Quarter, it would seem the mall finally has an owner with deep pockets who will be part of a big regeneration of a long-neglected area of Reading.

Whatever plans follow, it does seem this is the best chance so far for something ambitious to happen.

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