Reading proposals win council assent

Reading Borough Council has approved plans for the £400 million Station Hill project, despite renewed criticism by CABE.

Sackville Developments, owned by Reading Football Club chairman Sir John Madejski, withdrew an earlier application after it was criticised by CABE and called in by ministers.

Revised plans were submitted in June (Planning, 8 May, p4). But CABE again refused to support the application, describing the redevelopment as a once in a lifetime opportunity and urging the council to prepare a comprehensive area masterplan.

Many elements of the original scheme are retained in the new application, although its size has been increased to incorporate the Friars Walk shopping centre. The development will include office, residential and retail space alongside an arts venue, a health and fitness facility and a central piazza. Work is due to begin in 2011.

"We are grateful to the council for its support and for defending the scheme against unfounded criticism. With a scheme of this importance there will always be sceptics," Madejski said.

"Thankfully the council has taken a positive stance and recognises the value that Station Hill will bring to Reading, the Thames Valley and the south of England."

Sackville director Jon Homan added: "We consulted local people throughout the application process and the message that always comes across is 'the sooner the better'. The area is crying out for regeneration."

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