In the last two years, Reading has seen a surge of interest from investors and developers, following the announcement that Crossrail is to extend to the town, significant investment in town centre redevelopment (including over 650,000 sqft of grade ‘A’ office space) and Reading’s recent top-ranking positions in European city listings.
This is of course all welcome attention as it offers Reading the opportunity for major change and improvement. It offers us the opportunity to enhance our strengths and develop new ones. But as with everything, investment needs careful planning and consideration if it is to deliver the right outcome for the town.
I strongly believe that now is the time for Reading to step up and fight for a strong long-term future – a future that embraces the opportunities we have as a town and delivers some exciting and innovative approaches to city building that make us stand out from the rest. Yes, we have challenges around impoverished neighbourhoods and closing the gap, but we also have a great opportunity to drive economic growth; to deliver skills that support the industries we want to grow, to deliver the accommodation these industries wish to occupy and to deliver the housing and cultural opportunities these workers, including the existing communities of Reading, aspire to.
To do this, however, we need to work together. Local authorities across the country are facing huge budget cuts, and Reading is no different. We believe it is the responsibility of Reading’s businesses, the development industry and the wider community to set out our vision for Reading, as those best placed to benefit from the success. We need to get the ideas down on paper, get people excited about the opportunities and work with the Local Authority to support the realisation of these objectives.
That is what the Reading 2050 project is all about: helping everyone to understand the opportunities and visualise the change and benefits this would bring; to understand the challenges and barriers to success that need to be overcome; but also to ensure that what happens in Reading is right for Reading. If we don’t plan for the next 35 years and develop a clear view of the incremental steps required to achieve our ideal city, we won’t get there.
We need a framework around which to guide the enhancement and extension of our existing assets, our natural environment, our heritage, our resident industries and our location, to deliver a truly unique, innovative yet smart and sustainable city for the future. We encourage everyone to engage with Reading 2050 to make this happen.www.reading2050.co.uk
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