IDR Slip Roads to be Kept Open
Plans to deck over the Inner Distribution Road (IDR) and close two key slip roads as part of Phase 2 of the Chatham Place town centre development are to be reconsidered by the Council’s Cabinet on 27 September. The previous Labour administration of Reading Borough Council entered into an agreement with developer MUSE in December 2003 for the complete redevelopment of the Chatham Street area of the town centre which included decking over the IDR and closing two key slip roads.
Construction on Phase One of the scheme began in 2006, was completed in 2009 and includes a new award-winning 600 space multi-storey car park, private and affordable residential homes and new retail facilities. The second phase of the scheme proposed the decking over of the IDR with new offices, open space and the possibility of a new hotel and swimming pool.
The change in economic conditions may mean a significantly smaller Phase Two development contained within the current Chatham Street boundaries. This will not include the decking over of the IDR, but will build on the quality of environment already established on the site by the successful first phase.
Since I took over as Lead for Strategic Planning and Transport I have been determined to find a way to keep the two slip roads open and avoid the traffic problems that would have flowed from their closure. A report will therefore be considered during the closed session of Cabinet on September 27 where future proposals for the development of Chatham Place by Reading Borough Council and development partners MUSE will be discussed. It is in the closed session because it includes confidential details of the development agreement with the Council’s partners.
If the report is approved then this will lead to MUSE carrying out a revised development which will result in the slips remaining open and there being no decking over the IDR. It would also mean that a Public Inquiry – called following concerns about the effect the stopping up orders would have on neighbouring streets and traffic flow on the IDR – would be cancelled.
I have had a number of meetings with Council officers and with MUSE in recent weeks to try and establish a way forward and ensure that there was a viable way to develop the remainder of the site. With the downturn in the economy it has become clear that decking over the IDR is not viable for the developer and therefore we have reached agreement that we will seek a further development option which retains the existing slip roads.