A PROJECT to introduce a mixed-use urban market in the town centre has been refused due to concerns about crime and disorder.

Moorgarth submitted plans to Reading Borough Council (RBC) for a temporary three-storey building, with space for shops, restaurants and bars.

The council's planning team met on July 18 and agreed with officers, who feared the area was not prepared for the potential increase in anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of the council, urged the developer continue to refine the scheme after positive talks with the authority.

He said: "There is a very challenging licensing process. I am satisfied that that reasons for refusal are robust.

"They [Moorgarth] have already invested in the interior of the Broad Street Mall. They have engaged with the local authority and have indicated that they wish to work with us in developing our own aspirations for the Hosier Street area.

"I would not want to deter them from this strategy. Having had a number of meetings with them, I have made it clear that we support them.

"The nature of town centre retailing is changing and is under threat."

Council officers said the 'heavily revised' scheme should be refused due to the lack of surveillance and retail frontages.

The developer received planning permission in January for a similar 'container market' project.

However, the council felt this scheme was much less sensitive to independent traders and small businesses.

The report to the planning committee reads: "The positive aspects of the previous scheme have all been eroded and this is considered to be a concept which in commercial terms may be increasingly viable, but in planning terms is becoming unsupportable.

"RBC licensing and the police are extremely concerned for the revised concept to satisfy the operational management and security matters.

"The current application features significant and regressive uses and a range of poor design aspects and is unsupportable.

"Although this is presented as a much more pleasant structure visually, retail shopfronts are not evident."