A proposal to build 765 new homes on a retail park next to the River Kennet in Reading which was design reviewed by DSE’s Berkshire Panel has been given planning permission. The scheme is designed by PRP for developer London & Quadrant (L&Q).

The Kenavon Drive project will replace existing Toys ‘R’ Us and Homebase stores built after a Victorian factory complex, once home to the Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory, was flattened in 1978.

A mix of flats, ground-floor duplexes and townhouses, the development will include 157 affordable homes. It also features two new public squares and a linear park, as well as a restaurant, shops and employment space. The scheme came to Design Review in October 2016 and among the recommendations taken on board was the replacement of a 19-storey tower block, acting as a ‘marker’ for the development for people coming along the main road from Reading station, with a more modest 11-storey building.

According to PRP, the design will be constructed mainly from brick and includes ’a dynamic arrangement of saw-tooth roofs’ referencing the industrial buildings that once stood on the site. The use of historically inspired abstracted forms and techniques will create a contemporary architectural language that reflects the site’s manufacturing past as well as the character of neighbouring listed buildings in the area.

PRP’s landscape team has proposed a series of integrated streets and spaces for the scheme, that include a revitalised riverside promenade leading to a major new riverside square overlooking the River Kennet. The square features terraced seating, with new trees, lawns and fountains. Cafés and a restaurant will line the square, offering al fresco dining in a riverfront setting.

PRP director Craig Sheach told the Architects Journal: ’We were inspired by Reading’s history, the site and L&Q’s aspirations for the project and have developed a design which we believe is deeply rooted in its place, drawing inspiration from the former site’s industrial character.

‘When delivered, the scheme will enhance the eastern quarter of Reading and provide residents and locals with a well-connected, walkable neighbourhood and a place to enjoy a leisurely moment by the water – something that doesn’t happen currently at this part of the river.’

Craig Luttman, regional managing director (counties) at L&Q, added: ‘We aren’t just building homes; we are investing heavily in local infrastructure and creating a new destination with ample community facilities, employment opportunities and an ecologically enhanced riverside walk to improve biodiversity.”

The site falls within Reading Council’s Eastern Opportunity Area of the town’s Central Area Action Plan, which guides development through to 2026.  The scheme is due to start at the end of this year (2018).