A new ‘indoor games’ company could take over an empty unit at The Oracle shopping centre.
Plans have been submitted to Reading Borough Council (RBC) by The Oracle owners Hammerson to change the use of unit L30 (The Lower Mall) on Minster Street, which was home to kitchenware store Lakeland until June 2019.
The Oracle owners have applied for a certificate of lawfulness for the proposed change of use from A1 to D2, which both now fall under the class E use.
In its application, Hammerson said the new tenant is looking to occupy the unit “offers a high-end competitive leisure offer, with ancillary bar and catering”.
Expanding on this in the application, the company said: “The tenant will provide indoor games/recreational activities that now fall within the new Class E (d) class, described as including indoor sports, recreation or fitness.
“The prospective tenant will operate a licensed bar and sell hot food, but these activities will be ancillary to the primary leisure use.
“It is considered that the former and proposed use both fall within the Use Class E and, therefore, the proposed use is lawful.”
A spokesperson for The Oracle added: “We are exploring opportunities for potential new brands which would complement and expand our existing customer offer.”
Changes to use classes in September 2020 mean classes A1(shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes) and B1 (business), as well as parts of classes D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) fall into one single use class (E).
This allows for changes of use without the need for planning permission.
The only exception is for shops and facilities which are deemed as being important to the local community. These have been placed into Use Class F2.
The Oracle is, therefore, seeking verification from the council that the change of use from a shop (A1) to an assembly and leisure (D2) is now not needed as both fall under class E.
Lakeland moved to its current store on Broad Street in November 2019, having been at the Minster Street site from June 2009 until June 2019, when its lease expired.
The kitchenware store is now located on Broad Street after moving from its former home on Minster Street and was busy this morning as eager customers entered to have a look around.
The Oracle has been contacted for comment.