Process to begin sale of Reading Central Library agreed

Reading Central Library has been in use for some 40 years for people to take out books and use the other facilities at the building in Kings Road.

For years, the library has also served as offices for Reading Voluntary Action and REDA, the town’s economy and destination agency (formerly Reading UK CIC).

But the current library will soon be surplus to requirement, as most of the collection will be moved into a brand new library built in an extension to the council’s offices in Bridge Street.

Therefore, members of Reading Borough Council’s policy committee have agreed to instruct a sales agent to begin marketing of the Central Library site ahead of its closure next year.

There are hopes that the site could become a site for 46 homes, most likely apartments, providing the council’s target of 30 per cent being designated affordable.

However, it was acknowledged that it would be unclear what could be delivered at the site until it receives interest from buyers.

Councillor Micky Leng lead for planning and assets stressed that it was his preference that affordable homes would be provided once the library is sold off.

Micky Leng (Labour, Whitley) deputy leader of Reading Borough Council and lead councillor for planning and assets. Credit: Reading LabourMicky Leng (Labour, Whitley) deputy leader of Reading Borough Council and lead councillor for planning and assets. Credit: Reading Labour

Cllr Leng (Labour, Whitley), who is also the deputy leader of the council,  said: “My commitment [is] to get affordable homes in the town centre. Years ago, it was quite cheap to live in the town centre.

“I lived in the town centre just up the road up above the nightclub Poonana, I want to see affordable homes of all types. That area just happens to be a lovely area, and wouldn’t it be great to get some sort of housing there?

“But it may not be possible, and we have to work within the parameters that we’ve got. We are committed to putting homes there, but that may not be possible. We’ve got to leave our options open.”

The decision to ‘dispose of’ the library was made in a part-public and part-private meeting of Reading Borough Council’s policy committee.

In the public section of the meeting, the committee agreed to dispose of the library, and delegate powers to the council’s executive director of economic growth and neighbourhood services to negotiate, agree terms and complete

necessary documentation to give effect to any sale.

The sale would be undertaken in consultation with cllr Leng, in his role as lead planning and assets, cllr Liz Terry (Labour, Coley) as the leader of the council, and the council’s other directors.

Only cllr Josh Williams (Green, Park) the sole Green representative on the committee voted against the action. Then the meeting went private.

Work has begun on the new library in the council offices, with a hoped-for opening next Spring.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre