COMMUNITY group, Junction Arch Heritage and Arts (JAHA), has shared its latest plans for Reading’s Cemetery Junction Arch, which it has submitted to the council in a bid to save it for community use.

If its bid is successful, JAHA plans to create a heritage and arts hub at the entrance to the cemetery, making it a space for the whole community to enjoy.

In addition to display space for heritage and art exhibitions, doubling as a meeting room for local businesses and community groups, it would incorporate street food and refreshments booths with seating decks and affordable office space for social enterprises.

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JAHA plans to demolish the shower and toilet block, left over from the time the gatehouse was used as a police substation, which currently blocks the view of the Arch from the cemetery.

The window to the south side of the Arch, which was partially destroyed when the Grade II Listed building was extended in the 1900s, would also be restored.

JAHA Managing Director, Nick Cooksey, said: “There has a been a building blocking the view of the south side of the Arch for 100 years and it will be really amazing for a lost piece of Reading’s heritage to be fully revealed again.”

JAHA’s plans are based on the need for the site to generate income in order to fund the restoration and upkeep of the Arch, which it says has degraded significantly since it was built in 1843.

The planned heritage and arts hub would only extend into the area immediately behind the Arch and the team’s research has concluded that there are no graves within that area.

MP for Reading East, Matt Rodda, said: “Cemetery Arch is a well-known landmark and an important listed building. I hope it can be protected and used by the community.

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"I would like to encourage community groups to get involved and support this important building and I’d like to thank people who have come forward with ideas for protecting it.”

He added: “Reading Borough Council is currently assessing applications from interested parties, with support from Historic England, and I cannot comment further while this process is underway.”

JAHA is hoping to hear soon whether or not its bid has been successful.