LOSING an Aldi supermarket to make way for new flats has been described as a ‘major step back for the area’.

The Station Shopping Park project, on Vastern Road, will see shops like Aldi, the Range, and Mothercare demolished to make way for an office tower and between 750 and 950 homes. 

More than 100 people went to a recent public exhibition, and told developers they were concerned about losing the Aldi.

They also questioned the need for more offices, while so many in Reading are still empty.

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One person giving feedback said: “Soon enough, people will not want to live here as it will be full of empty offices, empty buildings and no facilities, education space or health advice.”

Another said: “I really don’t see why more office space is needed when there are empty offices.”

Others gave positive feedback, praising things like the ‘direct green link’ between the train station and the Thames. Also, the development will be mostly car-free. 

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One person said they liked the ‘open spaces and pedestrian access to the station’ and loved ‘the New York-like skyline’.

Another said it would be good to regenerate ‘an old and poorly maintained area of the town’. 

The developer doesn’t currently intend to rent out any accommodation and is uncertain how many flats will be affordable. Social housing providers have not yet been approached.

On empty offices, a spokesperson said they had received advice from an investment agent, that ‘in the future there will be a demand for office space’. 

They also said they would like a ‘shop selling groceries’ as part of the development; and will pay money to Reading Borough Council for school places as party of the community infrastructure levy. 

It should be noted that most commenters were from Caversham, with few from the immediate surrounding area. 

There is a week left for the public to comment on the plans.

Aviva Investors, the developers, will submit an outline planning application to Reading Borough Council before the end of the year.