Blog: 1 April 2016Utilising Reading’s natural assets

Richard Webb

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Richard Webb

Associate Landscape Architect

Reading office

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It’s only when you really look at a map of Reading, and understand the shape and topography of our town, that you appreciate the uniqueness of our location. Reading is situated on the confluence of two rivers and flanked by two large areas of water filled ex-quarrys and flood plains. As such, we have a rich opportunity to make the most of our natural assets. And yet in so many instances, we don’t.

The River Thames is a case in point. Cut off from the town by the railway line, its wide meander through the town goes largely unnoticed. With its restrictive crossings, it is perceived as an obstacle to movement as opposed to a facilitator. There is a real opportunity for some great riverside culture that could move people away from the currently congested transport thoroughfare. The new footbridge has provided Reading with an icon but also begun to demonstrate the opportunity bridging the river offers us.

From the outset, Reading UK 2050 has sought to drive discussion around the natural assets Reading has to work with and ensure that these are utilised effectively to deliver uniqueness. To the south, a strong emerging idea is the development of a Reading Great Park on the south east flood plains. This largely inaccessible expanse of natural landscape offers a great leisure and conservation opportunity for Reading. Improving protection, controlled accessibility and habitats could deliver a phenomenal natural asset and wider tourism economy, all within a short walk of the town centre.

The rivers and canals offer the perfect sustainable transport routes into the town via water, cycle paths and walkways, but through further modal shift and improvement of these facilities they could offer far more. Reading needs a civic hub, with a consistent and connective public realm. By considering the town-wide network of public spaces, we can plan for their integration and improvement as the built form takes shape, stitching our parks and green spaces back into the topography of the town.

Reading UK 2050 has highlighted the need to integrate our parks and green spaces back into the town, improving the connectivity and fluidity. By making the most of our natural assets, improving access and creating destinations, the town will realise the benefit of having an abundance of natural resources. Accessibility and creating destinations are key to making the most of our rivers and parks and highlighting the town’s assets.

See more information about Reading 2050 at: www.reading2050.co.uk

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Reading, Thames Valley, Reading 2050