Reading Council has reiterated its commitment to finding a secure cycle and maintenance hub in Reading town centre after long-standing plans to create one at the former Primark store regretfully failed to progress.
Despite talks between the council and the retailer moving forward over the past year, Primark recently informed the Council it is withdrawing its offer to lease a section of the West Street ground floor for the cycle hub.
The council has written to Primark for a more detailed explanation of its reasons for withdrawal so late in the process.
While Reading Council is hugely disappointed by the decision having invested so much time into the project, it now intends to accelerate a search for an alternative location and facilities in Reading town centre. This includes working alongside colleagues at REDA to identify possible alternative sites.
The council work with project partners Ethical Reading, The Reading Bicycle Kitchen, and Avanti, on the search for an alternative site and will also remain in discussions with the Department of Transport, which provided funding for the project, about the next stage of progressing the plans.
John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, said: “This is obviously hugely disappointing news for the Council and Reading’s cycle community having invested so much time and energy in this particular location for a cycle hub.
“There will be understandable frustration Primark has pulled out of the project at this late stage, and we entirely share that frustration.
“The Council now intends to move on swiftly and work to identify an alternative town centre location where a cycle facilities can be progressed, and a site which works for the Council, the property owner and, most importantly, for cyclists.
“We will be talking to building owners who have previously expressed an interest in getting involved, however, if you know of somewhere which might be willing to work on this project, please get in touch.
“Cycling, alongside increased use of public transport, is a key element in this Council’s ambition to reduce congestion and poor air quality and to create a healthier town for everyone. Secure cycling facilities will also be an important aspect of our overall vision.”
The Council’s ambition for a cycle hub was to provide more secure and enclosed town centre cycle parking facilities, with both experienced and novice cyclists in mind.
There was also the potential for other activities to be run from a hub such as a bicycle loan and/or bicycle donation scheme, by working with local cycle partners.