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Approval granted for £500m Reading scheme

Planning approval has been granted for a new large-scale construction scheme in Reading valued at £500 million.Joint venture developers Stanhope and private equity company Benson Elliot have received the go ahead for the creation of a new 1.2 million sq ft mixed use precinct in the heart of the city, which will include up to 300 flats for residential use, 9,000 sq ft of leisure facilities and 32,000 sq ft of shops, with the remainder of the development dedicated to the delivery of modern office accommodation.Set to get underway in the new year, the disused Friars Walk shopping centre is to be demolished to make way for the ambitious project, while the Station Hill retail parade is to be torn down to be replaced with a temporary events arena for the area that will be completed by 2015.Other facilities will include the remodelling and refurbishment of the existing NCP car park in the city centre.Overall, the scheme aims to reinvigorate the heart of Reading, with the first four new office buildings to available for tenants to move into by 2016.Development director at Stanhope Jason Margrave commented: "This is a massive step forward for the town centre with huge private investment to transform Station Hill into a new place to work, shop, live and enjoy."The scheme provides a great opportunity to extend and enhance the retail core in line with the borough's long term vision and it will also create significant new employment opportunities in Reading."Phil Irons, partner at Benson Elliot, added the approval of this ambitious development is a key milestone in the regeneration of the city.The plans were put together by architect Allies and Morrison, while David Langdon has worked as cost consultant on the project to date. In addition, Arup has now been contracted as both structural and services engineer for the development. 

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