Mordor is the evil realm in Lord of the Rings, the centre of which is Barad-dûr, the Dark Fortress, a spiralling tower which contains The Eye of Sauron, the malevolent being who created rings to enslave Elves, Dwarves and Men.
Mordor was compared with approved plans to add hundreds of flats in towers to Broad Street Mall in Reading at a recent council meeting.
Despite the plan winning final approval in December 2021, the mall was purchased by the AEW investment company, the following year, which has revised plans which have been previewed.
AEW wants to add four towers to the mall which between them would contain 601 apartments.
The new scheme was discussed at a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Older Person’s Working Group, where members received a briefing on updated plans.
Laurence Berks, a pensioner from Whitley Wood, said: “It’s an improvement from the last thing, which looked like Mordor.
“It was like something from the Lord of the Rings.”
Welcoming the new plan, Mr Berks said that the Broad Street Mall and the old civic centre site does need refurbishment.
He went on to argue that the design needs to be right, as he judged the Station Hill development to be “ghastly.”
The new scheme for Broad Street Mall was presented by Jonathan Walton, a planning consultant working on behalf of the mall owners.
He explained that the old plan had to be revised as a result of tower buildings requiring two staircases following the Grenfell disaster and revisions to minimum space requirements.
Commenting on concerns about the proliferation of new flats in the town centre, Mr Walton said: “When things get squeezed, you can only go down or up, and we are getting away from a ‘rabbit hutch’ approach.”
A scheme to convert the Soane Point offices in Market Place into 144 flats was described by councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) as ‘rabbit hutches’ when its approval by the government planning inspectorate was discussed.
The mall towers redesign also removes a so-called ‘poor door’ block which would have contained all of the affordable flats according to the approved plans.
The redesign is also being pursued as the plan to add the towers onto the existing mall structure has been deemed unviable, and AEW wanted to change what would be provided.
The original plan to build 422 apartments and a separate 101-bedroom hotel has been scrapped.
AEW has not submitted a planning application yet, but is set to later this year.
If the scheme is approved, it could be completed by the summer of 2028.
Mr Berks made his comments during the meeting on Friday, October 13.