News: 8 February 2016Barton Willmore shapes plans for new ‘urban quarter’ in Reading

Reading-based planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has submitted plans on behalf of RFC Prop Co Ltd, a partly owned subsidiary of Reading Football Club, for a new high-quality, sustainable urban quarter in South Reading.

The new community, Royal Elm Park, shaped by Barton Willmore’s design team, will provide 630 homes and a 8,000 sqm public square, in addition to a world-class Convention Centre, a new 247-room hotel, 102 serviced apartments, and 2,000 sqm of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities, including an ice rink.

Based in the Thames Valley for 80 years, Barton Willmore is delivering the public realm design and architecture, which forms a significant part of the new development, in addition to town and environmental planning.

John Haxworth, Design Partner at Barton Willmore, said: “As well as the provision of new homes, a world-class Convention Centre and additional leisure amenities, the new development will provide over 18,000 sqm of high-quality and much-needed new public space for the town.

“Stadium Square will create a new destination for Reading with a year-round calendar of events, whilst more than 10,000 sqm of the public space will form a new linear park with generous tree planting, wildflower meadows and play facilities for a range of ages, creating the largest new formal park in Reading since the creation of Forbury Gardens in 1856.”

The design has been essential in ensuring that the creation of this new distinctive urban quarter blends and complements the existing Madejski Stadium, Green Park business park and the emerging station and residential development to the west of Green Park. The creation of navigable spaces, connections and energy have been philosophy points throughout the masterplan, ensuring that the spaces are brought to life, encourage activity and are high quality for both residents and visitors to enjoy and integrate.

A new development of this scale will bring many economic and social benefits to the town, including the creation of new jobs (800 FTE construction jobs and 904 FTE jobs post-construction) and a positive effect on the local economy via resident and visitor expenditure, indirect benefits to other service providers and will be a catalyst for further inward investment.


New public spaces, retail and community facilities will provide local residents and visitors with access to green spaces, shopping and cultural events. Transport infrastructure, including cycles, will be greatly enhanced to provide easy access within, and to, the development and Reading town centre.

Kim Cohen, Planning Partner at Barton Willmore, said: “We are extremely proud to be part of this flagship scheme that will not only bring considerable benefits to South Reading but also to the whole of Reading and the Thames Valley as a whole.

“South Reading is a focus for growth and regeneration within the Council’s planning policy framework and this new mixed-use development has undeniable potential to contribute significantly to the enhancement of this area, both socially and economically, whilst also fully aligning with the objectives of both national and local planning policy.”

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Architecture, Town Planning, Masterplanning, Landscape Design, Thames Valley, Reading Football Club, New Community