Primark apology to Reading council for cycle hub being axed

Reading Borough Council has had plans for over a year to establish a ‘cycle hub’ for people in the town who use bicycles to get about.

The council was hoping to open the hub this year, which would have featured 82 secure cycle parking spaces, a cycle loan scheme and a repair work desk.

The hub would have been located in a vacant unit in West Street owned by Primark, with plans for the project being approved in November last year.

However, the project can now not go ahead in that unit as Primark has withdrawn its offer to lease the section of its headquarters to the council.

A spokesperson for Primark said: “We’re really sorry that due to a change in circumstances, we’re no longer able to offer our facilities as a location for the cycle hub.

“Home to both our UK head office and a popular Primark store, Reading is really important to us, and we’re committed to continuing to play an active role within the community and to supporting the town. We hope the cycle hub finds a suitable home soon.”

The withdrawal of the lease now means the council is on the hunt for a new location for its planned for cycle hub.

The council has begun discussions with Reading’s Economy and Destination Agency (REDA) the new name of Reading UK CIC, to find a new venue.

It is also continuing to work with project partners Ethical Reading, The Reading Bicycle Kitchen, and Avanti to complete it, and will update the Department of Transport which provided funding for the project on the latest developments.

Additionally, the council has requested that Primark provide a detailed explanation as to why the lease was withdrawn 10 months after plans were approved.

John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) lead councillor for climate strategy and transport said: “This is obviously hugely disappointing news for the council and Reading’s cycle community having invested so much time and energy in this particular location for a cycle hub.

“There will be understandable frustration Primark has pulled out of the project at this late stage, and we entirely share that frustration.

“The Council now intends to move on swiftly and work to identify an alternative town centre location where a cycle facilities can be progressed and a site which works for the council, the property owner and, most importantly, for cyclists.

“We will be talking to building owners who have previously expressed an interest in getting involved, however, if you know of somewhere which might be willing to work on this project, please get in touch.

“Cycling, alongside increased use of public transport, is a key element in this Council’s ambition to reduce congestion and poor air quality and to create a healthier town for everyone.

“Secure cycling facilities will also be an important aspect of our overall vision.”

The unit the council was hoping to occupy is within a building owned by Primark that is used as its headquarters.

The building used to be used as a Primark store in 2016 but relocated to its current location in Broad Street.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre