A ‘tired’ and ‘run-down’ shopping centre in west Reading is set to be transformed into 258 new homes and new shops after plans were approved last night (Wednesday, October 6).

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Planning Applications approved outline planning permission to redevelop the Meadway Precinct.

Chillingham Ltd, which has described the site as “tired and in need of upgrading”, submitted the plans to RBC to redevelop the shopping centre near Prospect Park in February 2020.

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The developer was previously granted planning permission in 2017 to overhaul the shopping centre but the new plans will see hundreds of homes added to the plans as well as a potential new surgery.

Labour Party councillor Jo Lovelock, who is chairwoman of the committee, said: “Overall this precinct is in such need of an upgrade. It has been looking so sad for a long time. I hope this time they do actually do the upgrade that is so needed in this area.”

The approval only grants permission in principle, which means a new application will need to be put forward with details of the plans for a further decision.

Cllr Lovelock said: “When it comes back for full consideration there is going to be an awful lot of detail that we need to get right, and this certainly paves the way to make sure that happens.”

There are currently 18 shops in the centre and 27 maisonettes above the building.

Parts of the shopping centre will be demolished under the plans, with shops refurbished and more retail units to be added, including a potential mix of restaurants, bars, medical facilities, and leisure.

Three neighbours had objected to the plans, raising concerns about overdevelopment, the height of the planned apartment block, the number of flats and impact on traffic.

But Cllr Lovelock said efforts had been made to make the development lower in height and further away from neighbouring homes and councillors unanimously backed the plans.

Labour councillor John Ennis, who was until recently lead member for Housing, said: “I thought it looked tired and worn-out when I saw the pictures when it was first built.

“As a local and someone who represents the area, residents use the precinct a lot or certainly did when it had a good array of shops and retail.

“They have been complaining for years at the way it is run down the area and the housing not being kept up to a standard that residents deserve.”

The Labour councillor said he hopes local people will be able to take advantage of the planned social housing.

At least 30 per cent of the homes will need to be at affordable housing rates.

Around 455 parking spaces are proposed, compared to the 214 spaces previously agreed by RBC in 2017.

But Lib Dem councillor Ricky Duveen praised the plans, including plans for a surgery and affordable homes but raised concerns about whether there will be enough infrastructure, such as school places, to cope with 258 new homes.

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Responding, Cllr Lovelock said some secondary schools in the town have capacity currently and schools are being expanded, referencing recent plans at Ranikhet School.