The John Lewis Distribution Centre opposite The Oracle Shopping Centre has been closed since December 2021 as the retail giant no longer required the facility.
Now, John Lewis wants to demolish the centre and replace it with a 200-home apartment block, containing a mix of one, two and three-bedroom flats.
Designs show the building having three towers, made with red and grey brick. Totalling 10 storeys, the height would be reduced to five storeys to the rear at Crossland Street, in an effort to respect the London Street Conservation Area.
All of the homes would be rented.
Simon Chatfield, head of build-to-rent at the John Lewis Partnership said: “It’s got a lot of benefits, it’s located very close to the town centre and transport infrastructure, we no longer need it as a parcel collection depot, so as part of our plans to go into build-to-rent this seemed a very sensible site to deliver much-needed homes for local people.
“We think better use of our brownfield sites is something good that we should be doing.”
He added providing well-built and managed homes fits in with John Lewis’ objectives of being a ‘socially responsible business’ and providing alternative income.
In line with government legislation, three sections of the building will have two stair cores, which has led other developers to revise their projects.
John Lewis wants to create amenities for future residents on the ground floor, with initial designs for a lobby, casual hireable working space and a gym inside.
Outside, it wants to provide a public and private landscaped space, with hedge planting on the border of the site. Solar panels and a green roof would be installed on the top of the building.
The development will also be wheelchair accessible.
The Partnership also has plans to build flats in West Ealing and Bromley in London.
But the Reading project could be delivered first, as those sites in London contain existing Waitrose stores.
Mr Chatfield said: “This will be a quicker build. Although this is slightly behind in planning application terms, it’s likely to be the first we deliver as the John Lewis build-to-rent project.
“It’s quite exciting for Reading and very exciting for us. We think we’ve created a really nice building, and we’re keen to see what the local people think.”
John Lewis is holding a webinar on January 30, and another consultation event will take place in February ahead of an application submission in March.
The Partnership has submitted its former distribution centre as a suggested site for 200 homes in the Reading Local Plan Partial Update, which is undergoing a consultation which closes on January 31.
The site is currently allocated as possible retail space or for a new car park for The Oracle in the Local Plan adopted by the borough council in 2019. However, that designation is likely to change as part of the partial update process.