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Reading Minster Quarter – Council Successful In £2 Million Bid For Regeneration

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Reading Borough Council has successfully bid for £2 million of funding to help kickstart the exciting regeneration of the Minster Quarter, which will transform a key area of the town centre.

Reading Minster Quarter

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association, yesterday announced details of its £75 million Brownfield Land Release Fund, with Reading listed as one of the local authority areas to benefit.  Reading Borough Council submitted its successful funding bid through the Berkshire One Public Estate Partnership. 

The Regeneration

The regeneration of the Minster Quarter is an ambitious Council-led project to transform a significant area of the town centre by building hundreds of new homes – including much needed affordable housing – bringing with it new jobs and growth which will benefit local residents and the local economy. The Council is seeking a development partner to help deliver its longer term ambition.

The Brownfield Land Release funding pot is intended to contribute towards preparatory works which will help unlock sites where new homes, new communities and new facilities will be delivered. In Reading, the money will be used to prepare for the first phase of the Minster Quarter regeneration, which runs adjacent to Hosier Street and is made up of approximately 187 private and affordable new homes.  

Preparatory work includes site preparation, involving the removal in part and strengthening of the exiting concrete structure that links the wider Minster Quarter development area together, preparing access roads for future development and providing new services and utilities to this phase.

Following the adoption of the Minster Quarter Area Development Framework in December 2018, Reading Borough Council has been keen to realise the wider development opportunity. The Council has been working with the landowners with a view to regenerating the area into a vibrant new urban quarter with potential for up to 1,100 new homes, active ground floor uses and new employment opportunities.

Councillor Jason Brock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:

“The Council’s successful bid for £2 million of external funding is welcome and will help to kickstart the exciting regeneration of what is a significant but unloved area of the town centre, bringing with it new homes, new job opportunities and a huge boost to the local economy, which will benefit local residents and businesses.

 “This new funding will help the Council begin to lay the groundwork for these major future developments by enabling some key infrastructure works to take place. 

 “The Minster Quarter is a far from straightforward development site, with a variety of land ownerships and interests in play. We will work with those various owners to help deliver this ambitious housing and employment hub, with a focus on great public realm, becoming an exemplar zero carbon scheme and providing desperately needed affordable housing.

“In recent months, Reading Borough Council applied for Government grant funding to bridge the funding gap required to deliver the first phase of Minster Quarter and will be working with the surrounding landowners to make further bids to Central Government when opportunities arise.”

Thames Valley Police Station

News of the funding award for preparatory works for the Minster Quarter comes as Thames Valley Police (TVP) is progressing with its plan to move out of Reading Police Station, which forms part of the Minster Quarter area. The Council understands that TVP shortly intend to serve notice on the Council to end the existing agreement which enables Lavender Place Community Gardens to operate from the nearby site of the former Civic Centre. The TVP lease on the land dates back to May 2018 and was always intended to be temporary position pending progress of TVP’s plans for the Police Station and the Council’s own longer term proposals to develop the Minster Quarter area. 

Civic Centre

The former Civic Centre site will be needed as a construction service site to assist in bringing forward development to help deliver the Minster Quarter regeneration project, either by the Council or by other adjacent landowners, prior to construction on the land itself. News of the Council’s successful bid this week means that in the shorter term, the site will be used for a construction service site for the Phase One element of works. The Council is fully aware of the benefits the community garden has brought in the interim period and the valuable work which takes place there, in collaboration with RISCs Food4families. The Council is committed to working with the group to explore options for an alternative site, whilst acknowledging the obvious constraints on both open space and available land in a town centre environment.