Reading town centre is to have a new addition in the shape of a 24-storey tower on the site of a former Network Rail base and Royal Mail depot. The investment fund Hermes Property Unit Trust has been given approval by the Planning Applications Committee to build this major mixed-use facility.
The development is part of Hermes's Reading Metropolitan scheme which is intended to create several new buildings, providing 620 homes as well as retail, office and community spaces.
The site on Caversham Road has been the subject of dispute since the original application was submitted to the committee in 2018. The residents' association complained of 'over development' while Bell Tower Community Association objected to its "failure to blend in with the surrounding Victorian and Edwardian streets".
Ultimately, time and utility swung the balance in favour of the developers. The planning officers felt unable to justify prolonging the period for which the site had stood vacant, already four years, and recognised the considerable benefits that the development would bring.
A spokesperson for Hermes said: "A great deal of effort has been put into creating an attractive layout that minimises impact on adjacent properties, ensures sunny and safe spaces within the site and adds a visually attractive point of interest to the central Reading skyline."
Maritime Gateway is a £200 million project devised by the Canadian company Fiera Real Estate in collaboration with the London property developer Packaged Living. It will turn a 4.8 acre area in Southampton into a mixed-use site that will provide 65,000 square feet of office space, 69,000 square feet of retail and 86,000 square feet of public realm as well as 603 build-to-rent homes. A former Toys 'R' Us warehouse currently occupies part of the location and this will be demolished in a site clearance that will enable the developers replace it with four buildings ranging from seven to 25 storeys, with the possibility, agreed in principle, of a fifth building of eight storeys.
The site, which is opposite Southampton Central Railway station, is currently used to store donations for Ukrainian refugees. It will be cleared by the end of 2022 and ground will broken early in 2023. The construction process is expected to create more than 500 jobs, with many continuing after completion.
Mark Woodrow is the managing director of Packaged Living, which is 33 per cent owned by Fiera. He explained his company's strategy: "The first phases will deliver a design-led mix of sustainable housing and offices, creating a fitting gateway from the station to the waterfront. Later phases, which were submitted for outline planning permission, are intended to remain flexible in their use to enable the Maritime Gateway masterplan to remain relevant and deliverable in the coming years."
For 50 years Bishopsgate Goodsyard in London's Shoreditch has stood vacant. Despite the extensive regeneration that this part of the capital has seen in the past 20 years, the goods yard is one site that has remained neglected. In 2020 Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, approved plans for a scheme that would fill the space with 130,000 square metres of business space, 500 homes and a hotel. Since then the joint venture partners Ballymore and Hammerson have pursued the planning process doggedly until the conclusion of the Section 106 agreement required to clear the way for work to begin.
The original plans have become more advanced in the interim, and will now incorporate spaces dedicated to arts and culture, pedestrianised streets and an innovative public park on top of restored railway arches. Construction will start in 2024.
Ballymore's managing director John Mulryan welcomed the green light: "Bishopsgate Goodsyard is one of the most exciting redevelopment sites in London. It will bring vitality to the district, create thousands of new jobs and significantly boost the local economy."