A SHOWPIECE west Reading apartment block got its grand launch at the weekend.

Half of Chatham Place"s 211 flats have sold already, with 42 of those now occupied. The apartments on the first five floors are completed, with the rest still under construction.

Property expert Melissa Porter, presenter of the BBC"s Britain"s Dream Homes, cut the ribbon on Saturday.

She said: 'It"s an amazing building, in a great location. I left myself two hours to get in from London, and was here in 40 minutes - it takes me longer than that to get into the West End! The apartments are great, so much space and great value, considering how close they are to the station and the motorway. The lay-outs are fun, not just long corridors.

'I think it"s incredible they have sold half, considering the difficult market. Lots of people are saying they can"t sell, but it"s because they are offering an inferior product in an inferior location, not like this.'

Sales director from developers Muse, David Caught, said: 'We"ve been delighted to sell half in this market, and have sold nine in the last six or seven weeks. It"s probably because the building is now complete and people can really see what"s on offer.'

The apartments and nearby affordable housing are phase one of the Chatham Place project, but plans for an ambitious phase two - decking over the IDR and building a hotel, leisure complex and offices on top of it - are on hold until the economy recovers.