Reading’s Minster Quarter Central regeneration partner selected

Following a detailed procurement process, McLaren Living has been chosen to drive forward and deliver the new £250m Minster Quarter Central scheme.

Artist impression of the proposed development in Reading | McLaren Living | Reading Borough Council | BTR News
Artist impression of the proposed development in Reading.

Developer McLaren Living has been selected by Reading Borough Council as the development partner for Reading’s Minster Quarter regeneration, which will include both Build to Rent and traditional affordable homes.

The Minster Quarter Central development could include over 600 new homes – 30% of which will be affordable homes across a range of tenures, including affordable social rent and affordable private rent. The scheme will also include 40,000 sqm of new commercial space including new workspace, retail, food and beverage, a 102-bed hotel, and new public spaces including a new ‘Hexagon Square’ as a functional and attractive civic space, designed as a gateway to Reading’s iconic Hexagon Theatre and new Studio Theatre.

The regeneration is set to generate a significant number of new local jobs post-construction and a brand-new community hub, providing a base from which to host a range of community activities.

In line with Reading’s net-zero by 2030 ambitions, McLaren Living aims to create all-electric, energy efficient systems, which maximise on-site renewable energy generation. The development promises a net gain in biodiversity and dedicated new pedestrian and cycle routes.

“The regeneration of the Minster Quarter represents an unprecedented opportunity to deliver one of the best located mixed-use development opportunities in the UK, right in the heart of Reading town centre. Our key aims throughout have been to secure desperately needed affordable housing for Reading, high quality public realm and a net zero development, in line with our wider net-zero ambitions.

“The preferred bidder has come forward with hugely exciting proposals which tick all of these important boxes and more, including more family-sized homes which we know are in short supply in Reading, a brand new civic space as a gateway to a revitalised Hexagon Theatre, which will contribute to its growth as a destination for arts and culture, a new community hub and, through our commitment to social value, around 100 new local jobs post construction.

“The Council has secured this landmark £250m investment in economic, environmental and community benefits for the local population. This Council’s ethos is to ensure everybody in Reading can benefit from the town’s undoubted success, and the Minster Quarter Central project is the perfect example of how that can be achieved. We have sought to secure a prospective partner in McLaren Living who understand and share the Council’s vision for the site, with a strong commitment to social value and experience of working successfully in partnership to achieve outstanding quality development, and with the potential to create a landmark destination. I look forward to seeing these exciting plans come to fruition over the coming years.”

Councillor Jason Brock, Leader, Reading Borough Council

Reading’s Minster Quarter is a key and historic part of the town centre and represents a long-standing and major strategic regeneration ambition for Reading Borough Council. The 5.2-acre site, in the heart of Reading and formerly occupied by the Civic Centre, will become a new gateway to and from Russell Street, the Castle Hill Conservation Area, and the residential areas of west Reading.

The Minster Quarter Central proposal aims to deliver a thriving mixed-use community, incorporating a positive street scene and places for people to shop, eat and enjoy Reading’s arts and culture. Current plans include re-provision of space for the Charter Market on Hosier Street, and an improvement of its setting with new public realm surrounding the landmark Reading Minster. Alongside this, proposals also include the regeneration of Dusseldorf Way, creating a key new boulevard with further street trees and places to sit.

The development is central to the wider Minster Quarter Regeneration Area, which has the potential to create a comprehensive new mixed-use neighbourhood in the heart of Reading town centre, delivering upwards of 1,200 homes. Over the next decade, neighbouring landowners plan to bring forward a series of schemes.

“We are extremely proud to have been selected to deliver Minster Quarter and look forward to working with Reading Borough Council to regenerate this key town centre site. Our ambition is to create a new mixed-use neighbourhood which transforms this historic part of the town, bringing new public realm, much-needed new homes, high-quality employment space and enhances the Hexagon Theatre. We already have a strong presence in the area, and we are committed to working with local stakeholders to deliver a new community for all and enhance the great town of Reading.”

Matthew Biddle, Managing Director, McLaren Living

This includes the redevelopment of Thames Valley Police Station, Broad Street Mall, Magistrates Court investment and the Council’s own exciting plans to create a cultural campus with the Hexagon Theatre and new studio theatre extension, made possible through funding from the Levelling Up Fund.

Last year, Reading Borough Council agreed a strategic vision for Minster Quarter Central. Bidders submitted detailed schemes which were subject to rigorous evaluation and competitive negotiation. Following this process, McLaren Living was agreed as the council’s development partner at a Policy Committee meeting in January 2023.

To develop the emerging proposals, the developer and council propose an in-depth consultation process, including early engagement with the local community and key stakeholders. Hosier Street Market managers Blue Collar are to remain on the site until the land is required for development. Options for future relocation are also being explored.