The major retailer John Lewis will soon reveal its plans for 200 homes to be built in Reading’s town centre and what that could look like.

The John Lewis Distribution Centre in Mill Lane has been closed in recent years with the company hoping to repurpose the site for new housing.

The site previously served as a centre for deliveries and customer collections before it was closed at the end of 2021.

John Lewis has since partnered with the Abrdn investment company on a number of built-to-rent housing projects, which includes the site in Reading.

Abrdn and John Lewis are hoping to build 200 homes at the Mill Lane site, which sits across the road from the Oracle Shopping Centre’s Riverside car park.

While the plan is at an embryonic stage, the developers claim they want to provide high-quality, energy-efficient homes prioritised for people who already live and work in the town.

The development would be made up of a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes, with future occupiers benefiting from shared facilities such as a gym, home-working hubs and even a dining area.

Reading Chronicle: What the interiors of the homes could look like at a prospective development of 200 homes at the former John Lewis distribution site in Reading. Credit: John LewisWhat the interiors of the homes could look like at a prospective development of 200 homes at the former John Lewis distribution site in Reading. Credit: John Lewis

John Lewis and Abrdn are also considering how the development could produce wider community benefits, including targeted affordable housing for key workers, establishing community partnerships and providing improved public spaces.

Simon Chatfield, the head of build-to-rent for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “As Reading’s population and economy continues to grow – increasing demand for new homes locally – we have an opportunity to meet some of that need by transforming a disused industrial site to create a thriving new rental community.

“Providing high-quality housing that we will manage for the long term will help  Reading to retain talent and support residents who demand better quality rented housing.”

READ MORE: John Lewis Partnership announces plan to build 200 homes in Reading

Designs for what the development could look like will be shared at an in-person consultation event at the South Street Arts Centre.

The consultation event will take place from 2pm to 8pm on Tuesday, January 23.

It is being held ahead of a planning application being submitted to Reading Borough Council, with people being able to share their views about the project to the development team.

Mr Chatfield said: “Our focus is around designing a new neighbourhood so we want local people of all ages to suggest ideas and input their views around how we can use our proposals to create as much positive social impact as possible.”

A development website containing the proposals and designs is also set to be launched on the consultation day.

John Lewis has submitted the distribution centre as a ‘suggested site’ for development in the Reading Local Plan partial update.

READ MORE: Former John Lewis distribution centre among sites where hundreds of homes could be built in Reading 

The site currently features as policy CR14g in the adopted Local Plan from 2019, where it had been allocated as a potential extension of The Oracle providing either retail space or as an alternative car park site for the shopping centre.

A consultation on the Local Plan partial update is being conducted on the Consult Reading website and closes on Wednesday, January 31.