Plans to demolish a derelict arcade in the town centre and build an eight-storey hotel in its place look set to get the go-ahead.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) officers have expressed their support for the plan to turn the vacant former Bristol & West Arcade on 173-175 Friar Street into a four-star hotel.

The plans also include replacing the former Coopers Arms pub at 29-31 Market Place, which closed in 2010, with a new pub.

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RBC’s Planning Applications committee will vote on the plans next Wedneday (July 21).

While planning officers raised concern about the lack of new office or residential development and the loss of the arcade, they said the benefits outweigh any harms.

The benefits include a “high-quality hotel in an accessible town centre location”, providing eight flats to contribute towards housing needs, off-site contribution towards affordable housing and high-quality design.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: The Bristol & West ArcadePICTURED: The Bristol & West Arcade

Other benefits include the re-introducing the historic right of way through the site, the creation of a public courtyard are of open space and providing a new pub and two retail units.

Officers also said the development would enhance the public area outside the town hall, revitalise a prominent derelict site in the town centre and provide significant biodiversity benefits.

Developer Sonic Star submitted the new plans for the site in January, having abandoned previous approved proposals for the former arcade on Friar Street.

The scheme replaces the previous plan for offices, 35 flats and five shops that was approved by the council’s Planning Applications committee in July 2018.

The new plan was submitted “due to the lack of demand for new office and retail space in the town centre”.

Sonic Star has agreed a pre-let with Leonardo Hotel (part of Jury’s Inn) to take on the hotel.

The hotel would include a bar, restaurant and gym and have up to 182 beds.

The developer also previously won planning permission to build a new pub, 43 flats, office space and shops at three grade-II listed buildings, at 27-32 Market Place, and is going ahead with these plans as part of the project.

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29-31 Market Place is the former Coopers Arms pub, which closed in 2010, and will be replaced with a new pub.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: The full sitePICTURED: The full site

Sonic Star said the arcade and Market Place buildings have become “derelict and are in very poor condition”.

It is “keen to develop the site into a vibrant collection of properties to bring new life to this corner of Reading town centre”.

The Bristol & West Arcade buildings on Friar Street were closed in 2007 and have remained vacant along with the listed buildings on Market Place.

The company acquired the site in 2017 and immediately boarded and secured the arcade for health and safety reasons.