Plans to replace the building that has Reading’s iconic Black History Mural on it with flats have finally been submitted.
Reading Central Club has a rocky history, as its been closed since 2006 and Reading Borough Council initiated a process to sell it off in 2018.
The bidding process was won by Red Line Land Ltd, but the developer’s plans have not been made public until now.
The plan would see the two-storey 1920s brick building replaced with a new taller four-storey brick apartment building.
A crucial part of the plan is the restoration of the town’s iconic Black History Mural, which contains paintings of prominent people from history, including American figures Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jnr, and Harriet Tubman.
There is also a painting of Terrance ‘Jeff’ Alamby, a local who was killed in Reading in 1996 among other figures.
The retention and restoration of the mural would be undertaken in several phases.
The design and access statement submitted in the plan states: “The first step to be taken before any work is commenced on site is to ensure that the painted face of the mural wall is protected from even minor damage.
“It is proposed to cover the artwork in a protective padded layer, which is boarded over with construction grade plywood to prevent any accidental damage through impact.
“Parts of the existing building are not suitable for future retention and will be
removed before construction work can commence.
“The stability of the mural wall will be ensured during this phase by the insertion of a steel frame.
“Once the structural work of the proposed building has been completed the mural wall and its structural frame can be connected back to the building.”
The final step would involve taking away the covering so restoration work can take place.
Inside, the new building would contain seven one-bed, seven two-bed and three three-bedroom apartments, with part of the ground floor being reserved for local community use.
Of the 17 apartments, only two would be designated as affordable, a one-bed and a two-bed unit both located on the ground floor.
That is 11 per cent of the development, far short of the council’s policy that 30 per cent of developments of 10 homes or more.
The new building would have zero spaces for cars, due to its proximity to the town centre.
Alternatively, future occupants would benefit from 20 bicycle spaces which would all be stored on the ground floor.
Previous designs show a cubed structure being built on top of the existing building, bringing it to a total of seven storeys, which were scrapped in favour of the smaller brick building which has now been submitted.
You can view all documents and designs by typing reference 221364 into the council’s planning portal.
Earlier this year, councillor Rob White (Green, Park), the leader of the opposition called on the Central Club to be sold to an organisation made up of members of Reading’s African and Caribbean community as no plan had been forthcoming.
Replying to the request, RBC leader Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote) said that a plan submission was expected “in the summer.”