THE HUSTLE and bustle of the Market Place could also become one of the town’s most salubrious places to live with a multi-million pound facelift.

An urban redevelopment company has planning permission to turn the office and residential space above a row of shops into between 32 and 52 London-style luxury apartments and studio homes worth up to £11.75 million pounds.

Richard De Souza, owner of De Souza Land Securities, bought the building after “having his eye on it” for 10 years. The property is currently on the market for £4.5m.

Mr De Souza said: “Market Place is a vibrant area, near the Oracle, high street shopping, the train station and banks. It’s a great space in a really nice area.

“We thought there was a vacancy for luxury high spec properties in the town centre that is more reminiscent of London than regional areas. We are aiming for five-star luxury hotel quality.”

He added it was a chance to lead the way in the development of that area of the town which will change it for the better.

He said: “We are specialists in urban development and it’s a chance to bring modernity to the tired 1960s building.”

Mr De Souza said if another company did not snap up the building his company would progress with the development in the New Year.

His plans would see all the flats having Italian kitchens, hyper-optic broadband and triple-glazed windows.

The developer added that leases on the five shops on the ground floor of the parade — including Greggs the bakers, Harington’s hair stylists, and Reading Retail award winners Eclectic Games — were safe. The 999-year lease for the shops is also up for sale for more than £2.5million.

Meanwhile, the nearby Kings Walk shopping arcade could be given a fresh look and a new name if plans are approved.

Atlantis Estates, which has submitted the plans, wants to spruce up the entrances on King Street and by the Oracle Riverside at Yield Hall Place.

The centre could also be renamed Atlantis Village under the plans, which include new signs for Mix Bar and the Dolce Vita restaurant plus an LED advertising display at the King Street entrance.

Reading Borough Council planners have recommended all of the changes except for the LED display. At the time of going to press, the application was to be debated at Reading’s planning committee meeting last night.

Shariff Alami of The Bag Shop in Market Place said the advertising planned for the current Kings Walk Arcade would attract more shoppers and people to the Market Place side of town.

The owner of the shop that has been in the town for 30 years said: “It will bring more trade through Market Place with their plans for advertising.

“If the plans are successful it will regenerate this part of the Market Place.”

Jon Amery, owner of Picnic cafe, said the plans to create more homes in the area would send more trade his way.

He said: “This is a the best part of town. New flats would be good as there will be more people living this side of town. It would be good for business.”