Berkshire

Reading town centre £400m revamp 'to start in 2012'

Station Hill designs
Image caption The plans also include an arts venue, bowling alley and a central public area

Work on a £400m leisure, retail and housing scheme in the centre of Reading will start in 2012, say developers.

Station Hill, opposite the train station, will see a 1.72m sq ft project built over five acres (two hectares).

Reading council backed the plans, which will form an £825m regeneration of the area along with the train station.

Reading FC chairman Sir John Madejski, who owns Sackville Developments Ltd, said plans were "on track" despite the economic downturn.

The development will see the creation of four tower blocks for office and accommodation space of up to 27 floors.

An arts venue, bowling alley, health and fitness facility and a central public square will also be created, as well as restaurants and cafes.

Sir John, who said it was too early to say when the scheme would be completed, added: "Everything is on track and going according to plan, it will be great to see the first brick put in place.

"Nobody expected the downturn that we've had, but I must say the council and banks have been on side and things are moving.

"It is probably the biggest development in the south-east of England and will really put Reading on the map."

Previous plans for Station Hill were vetoed by the government after being accepted by Reading Borough Council in 2007.

The veto was imposed after concerns were raised by the Commission of Architecture and Built Environment (Cabe) and English Heritage.

Reading train station is currently undergoing a £400m upgrade which will be finished in 2013.

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