Reading office building could be turned into 234 flats

Norman Place, which is located near the town centre just north of the train station has been sold, with the buyer hoping to convert the offices into 234 rental apartments.

The building was previously occupied by Covéa Insurance, which decided to sell it to new owners, Packaged Living and Bridges Fund Management.

Packaged Living is a developer and property manager that solely focuses on build to rent (BtR) schemes.

The company has plans to provide rental accommodation elsewhere in Reading, as it has signed up as the residential provider for the plan to build  449 apartments at The Oracle shopping centre.

Ed Ellerington, founder and CEO of Packaged Living, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Bridges to redevelop this obsolete office building into an institutional-grade BtR scheme, which in turn will encourage more young professionals into the town supporting its economic growth.

“Reading has seen unparalleled growth over the past few years, with surging demand for new good quality homes and a limited supply within the town centre.

“Norman Place, located on the waterfront with vistas over Christchurch Meadows, is a fantastic canvas to create a standout place for people to live close to local employment and the wider amenities of the town.”

READ MORE: Big changes at The Oracle in Reading planned with store set to close

No planning application for the conversion of the building into flats has been submitted.

Office conversions into homes are considered permitted development, and therefore do not require the full approval of the relevant planning authority, Reading Borough Council.

However,  on larger conversions, the prior approval of the council’s planning department is needed to determine the impact of the conversion relating to the impact on future occupants, existing neighbours and other factors.

The conversions can be unpopular with councils as the developers are not required to sign section 106 legal agreements which bind the developer to making monetary contributions to invest in play areas, parks, Reading’s road network and other services provided by the council.

READ MORE: Prior approval costs Reading Borough Council affordable homes and millions of pounds

Developers are also not required to provide or make contributions to affordable housing with permitted development conversions either.

The sale of Norman Place was secured through negotations with Vail Williams acting on behalf of the sellers and Hollis Hockney advising the buyers.

The acquisition has been hailed by the sales team, which stated it would give the building and the area ‘a new lease of life’.

READ MORE: ‘Detrimental’ plan to add 72 flats to old Three mobile headquarters thrown out again

Guy Parkes, Vail Williams Agency Partner said: “This is a well-known property in a prime spot along the Thames path and one of the first sites to be seen when exiting the rail station.

“Now it is to get a new lease of life as Packaged Living and Bridges transform the site into up to 234 BtR residential apartments.

“We were particularly impressed with the way the purchaser’s credentials aligned with our client’s values and our own – particularly around environmental and social responsibilities.”

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre