Latest News

23 November

Reading Gaol

Reading Borough Council has announced that “Following discussion in the closed session of tonight’s Policy Committee meeting (18th Nov), the Council can now confirm that it intends to submit a bid to purchase the Reading Prison site.

The disposal of the gaol site represents a once in a generation opportunity and the Council’s purchase would be the only certain mechanism to secure public access to the site and secure a cultural offer for Reading. 

The full details of the bid must remain confidential given the commercial and competitive nature of the bidding process however, the Council’s bid would be conditional on securing significant external public funds in order to manage the risk of taking ownership of this historic property.   

We understand the challenge of making such a bid at a time when demand for council services increases and funding decreases. So it remains to be seen how competitive such a bid will be. We will be writing to the Minister of State for Prisons and Probation to highlight that this site is too important, locally, nationally and internationally, for a simple commercial housing solution and that something more imaginative is required.

The article in the Chronicle is

19 November 2019 Eaton Court Development – Oxford Road

Members of the committee will be meeting 40 Shillings on 27 November at 12 noon at the Church Hall, Downshire Square, to discuss the proposals for the site on Oxford Road which is currently occupied by the DHSS Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (Between the Royal Metropolitan Society and Holy Trinity Church). The proposal is to demolish and replace the “modern” buildings. A public exhibition was held about the proposal a couple of months ago however the company has offered to meet the Society to share the design and feedback from the exhibition. Any Civic Soc member who would like to take part should contact the Chair –

19 November 2019 Electric Charging Points for Cars

RBC website advises that charging points are installed in lamp columns on residential streets and are operated by Vattenfall:-

  • St Batholomews Road x 2
  • Manchester Road x2
  • Coventry Road x3
  • Filey Road x1
  • Caversham Road x2
  • Wantage Road x3
  • Anstey Road x1
  • East Street x1

Parking against these is however not reserved only for those charging their vehicles. During the first month of operation these are free to use. After this initial period please visit Vaffenfall’s Incharge Website or download the Incharge App to register as a user.

Other publicly accessible electric vehicle charging points are available at the following locations in the Reading urban area:

8 November 2019.

The information panel about William Marshal, The Greatest Knight, was unveiled on 7th November. The cost of some £5,000 was funded by donations from some 50 members of Reading Civic Society and Caversham and District Residents Association, Gift Aid and CADRA itself. Eight Key Stage 2 children from Marshal House from Caversham Heights Primary School walked to the viewing point on Caversham Bridge to help ‘unwrap’ the plaque. The children really enjoyed learning more about the impressive life of William Marshal and his legacy, not only for Caversham, but for the whole country. They agreed it was a lovely event and were very grateful to Helen Lambert and CADRA for inviting them.

The project would not have been possible without the excellent response to the appeal for funds and we would like to thank the very kind donors for their generous donations.

Reading Borough Council have been very supportive of the project.

Reading Civic Society (a registered charity) has agreed to receive donations and apply for Gift Aid for the project.

See also CADRA’s Website CADRA Page about Wm Marshal Info Panel

Local Listing – Update 5 November 9:45

The government has decided to encourage councils to develop Local Lists (Lists of buildings which are important locally but which do not make the cut to be added to the National List managed by Historic England). We will give more information about this in due course. In the meantime Get Reading today provides information about, and images of, the buildings currently on Reading’s Local List.

Reading Borough Council’s process of adding buildings to the Local List is not visible on their website. Anyone however can propose a building to be added to the local list. Reading Civic Society and the CAAC have had some success in having buildings added to this list. The council also proposes and consults with us about their ideas. The link to the RCS page about how to go about adding a building to the list is

What is the weight given to Locally Listed buildings? Does it count for anything as two of the buildings which were formerly on the list have now been demolished? The recent evidence of Planning Appeal decisions in Reading is that it does. The Planning Inspector decided against the proposal to demolish 3 Craven Road – a key element of his decision was the Local Listing. The University’s proposals at St Patrick’s Hall, which would have led to demolition of part of the building, were also turned down by the Planning Inspector, after a hearing of 5 days, partly based on the Local Listing. However Local listing is not the ultimate protection and a use has to be found for buildings. Grovelands Church has we understand been sold by the church (so we hope for imagination there). The lease for the Rising Sun is £100,000 per year- so who on earth is going to pay that for the site… the owner is setting that up to say “we have tried to let it but surprise no one wants it so we now want to demolish it.” The building on the SSE site does not feature in the new plans for the site, though we have sought to encourage the developers several times to do so.

Planning -update 4 November 16:25

An interesting perspective on the Build to Let from Haslams MD Steve Woodford. The company research shows a total pipeline of 6.268 flats coming to EBC area with 1,650 being Build to Rent. Last week he spoke to Thames Tap about the numbers of Build-to-Rent flats in the Reading pipeline. He said: “My view is, ok, they can’t all go on the open market, but how many can Reading absorb and deal with?”

30 October 

New website for all Arts, Culture and Heritage Events 

“” was launched at South Street Arts Centre on 29 October. It will replace the existing Reading Arts and Venues website shortly.  The big change is that groups other than RBC related venues are able to add their events to the programme (after some training) and so far 60 groups have signed up to take part.  Additionally a full time post has been funded jointly by the Council and Reading UK for 4 years.  The site will become the Time Out for Reading and a Virtual Cultural and Heritage Hub.


Weldale StreetGet Reading suggest work due to start soon, at last.

Station Car Park Development ( the TGIF/ ALDI/ Majestic Wine Warehouse site) Caversham 3Road/ Vastern Road

A final exhibition was held on 30& 31 October.  The link below takes you to the latest information about the proposals.  There is a link on the site which enables you to send in any comments.  Looking at Social Media there are many concerns from local residents about the loss of the supermarket and other facilities, which will not be replaced for 5 years (the expected time the scheme will take to complete).  The developers have offered to meet Reading Civic Society Committee members separately to gain our feedback.  We will let you know how we get on.

The Planning Handbook

“Reading Planning Handbook” provides much guidance on the Planning Process.   The link is

13 October 2019 READING GAOL HUG 

Alok Sharma MP and Matt Rodda MP

Coming together for the Big Hug Reading’s MPs – L-R Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP and Matt Rodda MP

The Councillors join the Hug

The Deputy Mayor and Councillors join the MPs in the Hug and Oscar is there too.

The Hug in the Abbey

The Hug within the Abbey Ruins

A video by Andy Jones of BBC Radio Berkshire of the Hug In Progress may be seen:

Party politics were transcended on Sunday 13th October when Reading’s two MPs, Matt Rodda, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma (Secretary of State for International Development), and Reading Borough Councillors from all parties joined the 1,000 people who assembled in Reading Abbey Ruins on Sunday afternoon to stage a community Hug of the boundary walls of Reading Gaol. This was successfully completed despite downpours. People of all ages took part. 

The aim of the campaign is to encourage a more imaginative use for the closed Gaol than selling it for housing. The vision of Theatre and Arts in Reading and RBC is for it to be an Arts / Cultural Hub.

The event was initiated by Artist Linda Saul. The Reading Gaol Hug Society was formed to make her vision happen and was composed of 4 members of Reading Civic Society. We were guided on any issues about running the event by Cllr Karen Rowlands (RBC’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation), RBC staff and a member of the Baker Street Area Neighbourhood Association. On the day the support of around 30 Marshals and First Aiders, to ensure it all happened safely, was vital.

A Press Release can be seen Here.

Matt Rodda MP’s Petition campaigning for this vision has now reached over 7,000 signatures.

Support has come from many quarters including the Oscar Wilde Society and
the Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading.

Students out in Taiwan also did a virtual hug which may be seen on the
Facebook site.  HERE 

A good report was provided by The Wokingham Paper.

The report from the Reading Chronicle is Reading Chronicle report

The Reading Gaol Website is

Reading Civic Society Annual Party 2nd March 2019 – Pepe Sale

Some 57 members and their guests attended the annual Civic Society party at Pepe Sale on Saturday 2 March. As ever we were brilliantly looked after by Toni and the Pepe Sale team. It was terrific to see such an enthusiastic turnout with some new members attending and some long standing members attending an event for the first time in many years.

We were very grateful for the donations of prizes for the raffle which raised £130

A selection of images by Chris Widdows is below.

The Quiz by Chris Widdows