Our new project in Reading town centre will transform a prime listed heritage asset on a strategically significant site. The mixed use development, recently submitted for planning, includes 16 retail units for boutique and independent traders, a 41 suite aparthotel and a vibrant market square.
At Frost we are big believers in the environmental advantages and opportunities of refurbishing sites and buildings. Many of our projects feature the restoration of dilapidated sites, listed buildings and heritage areas. Transforming a neglected heritage asset is not only environmentally advantageous, but also allows developers to restore and transform a building while operating within planning constraints.
As well as the economic and environmental benefits, restoring a heritage building provides developers and architects the opportunity to capitalise on the established history and reputation of the building and the area. Designs and restorations can reflect the historical theme while allowing room for modern upgrades.
Our latest scheme with Thackeray Estate, Queen Victoria Street (QVS), provided us with a further opportunity to expand on the principles of restoration, and the chance to rejuvenate a key retail and heritage area. The listed asset in Reading town centre is in a prime area of strategic significance, with substantial local travel links and an established reputation in the area.
Join as we take a closer look at the proposed scheme, and how the development presents the chance to revitalise a neglected and vacant space to create a genuine economic hub.
The existing site is located in Reading Town Centre, 200m from the train station, and contains heritage listed buildings in a deteriorating and neglected state with a variety of harmful additions. The location offers the chance to be a premium retail and economic hub, with excellent transport links and an already significant heritage reputation.
The existing buildings are of considerable architectural quality but have been compromised by unsympathetic additions. With the foundations already set for an area of architectural excellence, the careful restoration of the facades and terracotta detailing will restore the site to its former visual quality and prominence. The vacant interiors of the heritage buildings will be refurbished to provide a high quality mixed use scheme.
As well as restoring the architectural beauty of the existing buildings, the scheme will remove the low quality additions, and replace them with a sensitive, high quality and uniform proposal.
The proposed design for new shop fronts has been informed by historical photographs dating back to 1939, ensuring the new restoration respects the past while creating a design standard for the rest of the street to follow.
Restoring these listed buildings to their architectural conception, while providing sympathetic and historically informed additions, will create a modern, premium space grounded in the architectural significance and heritage of the area.
Restoring the visual eminence and architectural quality of the site is phase one of the proposal at QVS. The next step is to put the new scheme to use.
The success of the proposal is built on three pillars; heritage retail, an aparthotel and a market square.
Listed and heritage buildings offer the perfect backdrop for a retail destination. Capitalising on the excellent location, the new scheme will be a genuine retail hub. The new high quality shopfronts will ensure a cohesive façade and create a destination identity for the hub, while independent shops and small businesses provide the diversity of the retail experience. The high street is a long suffering enterprise. The heritage identity of the hub, combined with the diverse independent retailers that will populate the scheme, will regenerate the area as stand-out retail destination.
The aparthotel is a modern phenomenon, the perfect model for town centre accommodation. It offers the services of a hotel with the freedom and comfort of an apartment. It offers a lifestyle.
By providing a location in the heart of the town, the proposal offers easy access to the local area and the chance to explore. The aparthotel is intended for short term stays serving business travellers and tourists, and attracting both international and domestic customers. By locating the aparthotel in the restored listed building, the accommodation is a truly unique experience offering customers the chance to feel part of the history of the town.
The Aparthotel at QVS offers a variety of high quality, serviced apartments in a hotel setting. By creating a travel destination on top of a retail hub, both elements are enhanced.
Placing the high quality retail and aparthotel experience within the heritage buildings creates a destination in its own right; the intention at QVS is to provide an economic hub that will rejuvenate the entire area.
The market square is key to this objective. The principle of the square is to create a collection of boutique retailers, independent food traders and artisans creating a vibrant lifestyle destination. A careful combination of partners ensure a successful public realm. Food outlets create the atmosphere while shops provide the diversity. The market square will become the heart of the community offering the complete experience.
In current times, the need for retailers and eateries to have access to outdoor space has become even more apparent. These alfresco spaces allow them to enhance their offering and create a energised atmosphere.
The new market square will see a vibrant and intimate public space offered back to the town of Reading. The square will become a key destination with high quality retail and café spaces, as well as offering the opportunity to host the kind of unique events and festivals seen around the country – farmers markets, sporting events, art festivals all offer the opportunity to create a unique, inclusive experience.
Creating an event destination, a space where people gather, share and create memories, as well as enjoying the retail experience, will rejuvenate the area and revitalise the town.
Queen Victoria Street will be an event destination. A centrepiece for the town of Reading and a tourist destination for visitors beyond. A space that could catalyse the growth of the town and transformation of the town centre experience.