A corner of Reading is set to change forever as huge plans for more than 260 hotel-style rooms have been approved.
At a recent planning committee meeting, councillors agreed to developer Thackeray Estates’ proposal to build a new 163-bed hotel, 104 apart-hotel rooms and a new courtyard and shopping area in the town centre.
Members of the committee were gushing with praise for the plans.
Councillor James Moore (Liberal Democrats, Tilehurst) said: “I love the courtyard and the shops, I hope it will be a little gem in years to come.”
Meanwhile, cllr Karen Rowland (Labour, Abbey) said: “As a town centre ward with Cllr Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) I know that we both welcome the proposal and thank Thackeray Estates for bringing this forward, and giving this town, that’s a city in all but name, something that we really deserve.
“This is the kind of development that really can bring a site into existence that Reading deserves.”
The plans were split into two parts, with the first decided being the apart-hotel rooms and courtyard located at 1-15 Queen Victoria Street and 147-148 Friar Street.
Approval means the developers can revitalise the corner and create a ‘character’ shopping area, possibly with black and gold branding to create a uniform street scene.
The 104 apart-hotel rooms will have a maximum occupancy time of three months to prevent them from becoming de facto permanent residences.
The principle of transforming Queen Victoria Street was laid in June 2021, when the committee approved plans for 41 apart-hotel rooms and the courtyard.
The second feature of the development is the construction of a 163-bed Jurys Inn brand hotel which would bring The Bugle back into use following its closure in October 2021.
The council gave the pub protected status in July, with Thackeray Estates incorporating it into the hotel building.
Cllr Andrew Hornsby-Smith (Labour, Church) said: “This is an application that really needs to be supported. The key words planning officer Jonathan Markwell has used are ‘richness and quality’. I thoroughly endorse that. This brings together a number of underused and unused spaces and developing then in a sympathetic way.
“They way they’ve used The Bugle is very sympathetic, it’s exciting, it creates an atrium, the heritage aspect of that has been retained in a very creative way and I welcome that. It also meet Reading’s hotel needs.
“This is a major investment and I look forward to it.”
You can view tweets from the meeting below:
Cllr Matt Yeo (LAB): “I often get asked how are we going to improve how the town looks for visitors? I think once completed this will be one of the first things residents or visitors see. The fact it preserves the listed buildings I think it tidies up the area nicely.”
— James Aldridge (@jamesAjourno) December 7, 2022
The two separate plans, codenamed QVS1+ and QVS2, were both approved unanimously by the committee on Wednesday, December 7.
You can view the plans by typing their references into the planning portal:
- QVS1 – 221232 and 221233
- QVS2 – 221235
The approval has big implications, as it will mean Revolución de Cuba and the Eyesite Opticians will have to vacate so the hotel can be built.
While WH Smith will remain in place, albeit smaller than the current shop, it is unclear what will happen to Reading Food & Wine, Timpson and the beauticians which occupy the ground floor of the first site.