Reading was last night (14 May) named ‘Town of the Year’ at the Thames Valley Propert
Awards, in front of an audience of 500 people at Ascot Racecourse. Reading also swept the board in many of the other categories.
Reading Borough Council and Reading UK CIC received the Town of the Year award in recognition of their leadership and success in bringing about the regeneration of Reading town centre over the last decade. A huge transport and commercial infrastructure investment programme, as well as business investment in the town centre through the Business Improvement District (BID), has led to Reading town centre becoming a business and visitor destination of choice.
Key to this success has been the influence of the BID. Set up in 2005 with a mandate to make the town centre more secure, more attractive and to encourage more business, the BID levy has invested over £5 million in the town centre during that period. As a result, retail vacancy rates have bucked the national trend, crime rates have fallen and the BID-funded Christmas lights and events programmes have attracted many people in to the town centre.
The major investment in transport infrastructure has made Reading an attractive destination for major investors. The key to unlocking new investment in the station area, for example, has been the successful lobbying for transport investment, led by the Council through its Transport Plan, which has secured funding for the upgrade of Reading Station and contributed to bringing Crossrail and Western Rail Access to Heathrow to Reading. In the past 12 months, over two million sq ft of office /residential space has been delivered /is under development within 500 metres of Reading Station as a result.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport , said: “Reading remains a popular place to live, work, visit and do business in. The town centre in particular has weathered the recession well and we are now seeing the fruits of the Council’s planning as huge investments in town begin to take shape.
“The Council, alongside Network Rail, has played an integral role in the recent transformation of Reading Station. Alongside that we are now seeing real progress as Station Hill and other town centre developments move forward.”
Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK CIC, said: “Business and investment are being attracted to Reading by the combination of excellent transport infrastructure, a dynamic and welcoming town centre and the skills and talent of our workforce. Key to this has been the creation of a world-class transport hub at the station and the support for business to redevelop many of the unattractive and redundant buildings in the station quarter. Reading is very much open for business and it is exciting to see that business is getting the message. The strategy is paying dividends. ”
Reading also won many of the other awards:-
The Thames Valley Property Awards celebrate the diversity of the property sector in the region. More information at http://www.businessmag.co.uk/thamesvalleypropertyawards/
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