New designs for 200 flats in Reading near Oracle revealed

The John Lewis Partnership is seeking to demolish its defunct distribution centre in Mill Lane and replace it with a new building containing 200 apartments.

The Partnership initially demonstrated its plans for the site at an exhibition in January.

The designs have since been revised bearing in mind feedback from that first exhibition.

The building itself has been redesigned to create  ‘dual aspect’ apartments, which will have both north and south-facing windows out into Crossland Road and Mill Lane.

At ground level, the project has been adjusted to provide a flexible community and commercial unit accessed from Mill Lane.

Fresh designs also show a ‘wellness’ garden for residents and a neighbourhood garden accessible to all.

Additionally, John Lewis want to create a biophilic design by increasing occupant access to nature, with all the ‘biodiversity net gain’ for the development being delivered on site by tree planting.

Simon Chatfield, head of build-to-rent at the John Lewis Partnership said: “We’ve had a consultation, we’ve listened to what people have told us, and we’ve reflected that in changes to the scheme, which we think are all positive.

“It’s been very encouraging for people to come and have a look, and having a look on the website.

“Based on the feedback we get, the plan is to submit a planning application in April.”

John Lewis is embarking on two other projects at existing Waitrose store sites in Bromley and West Ealing in Greater London.

The development in Reading, subject to approval, is likely to be the first build-to-rent project that John Lewis opens.

The partnership is still working on the exact amount of apartments the building will contain, but it will be made up of one, two and three-bed flats.

It is also seeking to provide affordable housing for key workers such as emergency service employees, teachers and those in the healthcare sector.

Reading Borough Council’s planning policies state that 30 per cent of units delivered should be designated affordable.

Mr Chatfield said: “We’ll have a really good range of unit types, hopefully to cover the market.”

The new designs were revealed at a public exhibition on Tuesday, March 5.

These will be available on the consultation website for the development.

The John Lewis Partnership is hoping for the project to be decided on by the council’s planning applications committee in Autumn this year.

Subject to approval, the existing building will be demolished in Autumn 2025, with construction work starting after that.

The partnership is hoping for the first residents to move in by Spring 2028.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre