The closure of Reading’s House of Fraser closure and its transformation into a bowling alley, adventure golf course and food hall has moved a step closer.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) and The Oracle formally agreed the plans on Friday, July 31.

In March, the council’s planning applications committee approved the plans for bowling, mini golf, a food hall and new shops in place of the department store.

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But the plans were only given the seal of approval on Friday, when a S106 agreement was signed, allowing the transformation of the three-floor department to begin.

A Section 106 agreement is an agreement between a developer and a local planning authority about measures the developer must take to reduce their impact on the community.

The agreement between RBC and The Oracle includes conditions such as:

  • The development must begin within three years
  • Opening hours of 8am-12am, Monday-Saturday and 8am-11pm on Sundays and public holidays
  • All new parking spaces  (car, cycle and electric vehicle charging points) must be fitted and ready to use before the golf and bowling units can open.
  • Construction only allowed on Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm, and Saturdays, 8am-1pm

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning at RBC, praised the development at the meeting in March, saying: “This is a further vote of confidence in Reading town centre.

“Many shopping centres are at the point of going under and the part owners of this centre are retrenching elsewhere in the country.

“The provision of town centre bowling has been a very long aspiration. We look forward to the works commencing as soon as possible.”

The department store will be transformed into:

  • A food hall accessed from the riverside
  • Adventure golf and ten-pin bowling
  • Retail shops on the lower ground floor and upper ground level
  • A retail shop or cafe on Bridge Street

An extra 20 car parking spaces will be provided, including four disability spaces, while ten new cycle spaces and two new electric vehicle charging points will also be added.

House of Fraser has been at The Oracle since the shopping centre opened in 1999.

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Many of the troubled department store’s sites across the UK have closed in the last few years.

House of Fraser was rescued by Mike Ashley in a £90 million deal in 2018 but has continued to struggle, with the retail entrepreneur warning in late 2019 that more stores would close in 2020.