Reading Abbey Quarter: still time to have your say

More than 650 people have already had their say on plans for the historic Abbey Quarter in Reading town centre and there is still time to take part.

An online consultation began at the beginning of January has so far gathered more than 650 responses but there’s still time for more people to have their say before the closing deadline of Wednesday, February 4.

In June last year, the Heritage Lottery Fund gave Reading Borough Council a first round pass for Reading Abbey Revealed , the activity and interpretation plans for the Abbey Quarter.

This meant the council could start work on developing the project, and in November two consultants were appointed to draw up plans for the site, including new educational activities for schools, public events and improved signage.

These will be submitted as part of the second round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in autumn this year.

If successful in the next round, the council hopes to get a grant of £1.73 million towards the total £3.1 million cost of the work to restore the Abbey Gateway and to conserve and reopen the Abbey Ruins, which are both scheduled Monuments and Grade I listed buildings.

The Abbey Ruins are currently closed to the public for safety reasons.

View inside Reading Abbey Ruins during tours organised by the Museum of Reading and the Friends of Reading Abbey

Last January, the council held a public consultation to see if people supported the Abbey Quarter project and received 1,156 responses which overwhelmingly supported (97 per cent) the application to the HLF.

This year, the council launched an online survey to allow public to share their thoughts.

Paul Gittings, lead councillor for culture, sport and consumer services, said: “This only confirms what we already know about people’s enthusiasm for the project and the site. It would be great if everyone with an interest in the project could contribute to its success by either taking five minutes to complete the survey themselves or encouraging others to have their say.

“The consultation gives people a chance to give their views on how the historic area of Reading should be used and how they think the community should be involved in its restoration and there is still time to complete the survey and to be involved with these exciting plans to develop the project.”

Councillor Tony Page, lead councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport, said: “We are lucky in Reading to have a site of such national historical significance right in the heart of our town centre. We want to open up the Abbey Quarter for residents, visitors and future generations to appreciate and enjoy. I look forward to the next landmark when we submit the full grant application to HLF and, hopefully, positive news on the council’s bid to follow.

“In the meantime, it is a disgrace that the Government refuses to provide any timetable for disposing of the Prison site, whilst racking up ever-increasing bills for mothballing the buildings. The Prison site offers huge potential to enhance the overall Abbey Quarter and our bid would be immeasurably enhanced if we had more clarity about the process and timetable for exploring new and exciting uses for these historically significant buildings.”

The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ReadingAbbey

Anyone taking part will also be entered into a prize draw for a £50 shopping voucher.

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