Friar Street & Station Road
A unique setting in the centre of Reading, the site at the corner of Station Road and Friar Street, sits at the gateway between the train station and town centre. Positioned between the tall building zone at Station Hill to the west and the Market Place Conservation Area to the east, it has its own specific planning policy within the Local Plan. Listed buildings, non-designated heritage assets, a historic arcade and low-quality modern infills were woven together within the site with various levels of connectivity, all tightly bound by more buildings, pavements and car parks.
The existing buildings were tired and lacked active frontages, and we were initially appointed to investigate various feasibility options for a mixed-use development, from complete redevelopment of the site to re-use and extensions. Extensive consultations were undertaken at pre-app stage with a proposal for a 200 key hotel, refurbishment and extension of the existing corner office building and new and refurbished retail and leisure outlets to the ground floor and basement.
Heritage and commercial constraints were carefully balanced to maintain the character of the streetscape on this key frontage to the town centre, with pavement-level façades improved and added to, bringing new life and energy to this pedestrian walkway. Internally, the Harris Arcade was to benefit from more natural light by opening up the historic rooflights.
Existing additions to the rear were to be replaced with a high quality infill development and new extensions above the retained terraces, respecting the size of the historic plots. The massing of the new structures maintained the prominence of the corner frontage while considering longer distance views from the conservation area.
The proposals were presented to the Design South East review panel as part of the pre-application process with the scheme ultimately receiving positive support.