Young professionals from the property industry came together last week to discuss where the centre of Reading is. Solicitors, developers, transport planners, environmentalists, engineers, designers and agents were split into five groups and a representative from each team was blind folded and had to ‘pin’ the centre of Reading on the map. The randomly placed town centres ranged from on top of the White Building on Kings Road to the edge of the Oracle next to the IDR, down to Broad Street Mall and the hexagon. Each team then put forward an argument as to why those randomly placed locations would make a good town centre and civic square.
The groups then went on to discuss and decide where the town centre should be. With connectivity clearly sitting at the heart of each suggestion, the proposals for Reading’s town centre included: placing a destination venue to the north of the station, activating the river with the town centre; utilising the Abbey Quarter, linking cultural areas to places of connectivity like the train station; creating a piazza and pedestrian area between the Oracle and Broad Street Mall, incorporating St Mary’s Butts and the Old Market Place; expanding The Oracle Riverside, creating a vaster civic square, building in connections to the town centre; and transforming and raising the IDR, to create a tree-lined pedestrian oasis.
Each group placed a heavy focus on the ‘user’ journey and connectivity through the town centre, drawing people to a final destination point, hub or central civic space. The outputs showed that there is a fantastic opportunity for Reading to build on the regeneration work it has and is currently undertaking, highlighting the importance of creating an established ‘heart of Reading’.
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