Plans have been submitted to revitalise the half-empty Reading International Business Park to make it more attractive to businesses.

The business park, located at Junction 11 of the M4 in south Reading, is home to several companies but is 48 per cent vacant, according to planning consultants Carter Jonas.

Tristan Capital Partners has submitted plans to Reading Borough Council (RBC) to create a new entrance, decked car park and upgrade the main office building, as part of the plans for the business park.

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It also wants to carry out works to the listed Little Lea Cottage, upgrade its gym and turn a canteen into a health centre, accommodation or offices.

Carter Jonas associate Max Goode said the vancy issue is due to a number of factors, but primarily “due to the space not having been modernised so that it is no longer viewed in the market as providing ‘Category A’ space”.

He said there is also “a lack of good quality amenity space” so the park is unable to compete with the higher quality office accommodation provided elsewhere in Reading, such as the nearby Green Park.

So what are the plans for the site?

New Entrance

Mr Goode says the existing main entrance is small in scale and does not differentiate itself from the other building access points, making it difficult to find from the road and not obvious to users of the building and providing a “poor arrival experience”.

The new entrance will have a two-storey semi-circular arch, which aims to clarify the main entrance within the site and create a focal point for the scheme.

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The new entrance is the key to the refurbishment project, according to Carter Jonas.

Car park changes

An extra 61 car parking spaces will be added to the business park, by reducing the current 1,199-space car park by 24 and adding a new decked car park level with 85 spaces.

A number of existing bays will be lost to dedicated spaces, that will only be available for those using electric vehicles and car sharers 24 spaces, which is why Tristan Capital Partners want to add another decked car park.

Sustainability Improvements

The plans also include making the business park more sustainable, such as:

  • Seeking to reduce energy use to less than 160kWh/m2/y
  • Introducing heat pump technology as part of gradual move away from dependence on fossil fuels towards carbon neutrality
  • Providing electric vehicle charging points and car share spaces
  • WELL and BREEAM Excellent accreditation

The Dot, Little Lea Cottage and other works

Other works include changes to the listed Little Lea Cottage, the Dot and landscaping works.

The Dot, a building historically been used as the main canteen for the office workers but will be transformed into offices and a multi-purpose space which could be used as a yoga or pilates studio, a ‘town hall space’ for tenants or a community room.

The canteen will be moved into the main building.

Other plans included replacing the current gym at the main building with a new larger gym.

Little Lea Cottage, a 17th century Grade II listed building will be “sensitively repaired and refurbished” under the plans to “bring it into sustainable and beneficial use”, which could include a standalone office or a flexible space for visitors such as physios.

There is no firm plan for the farmhouse but the current ideas including turning it into a health centre for the wellbeing of employees, a standalone office or overnight accommodation for overseas visitors.

Tristan Capital Partners also wants to upgrade the outside area, which it describes as “very harsh and sterile” by planting trees, adding an employee allotment, and creating outdoor meeting pods and walking and running routes.