Reading is historically known for the Three B’s; Beer, Simonds’ Brewery from 1785–2010; Bulbs, Suttons’ Seeds from 1837-1974; Biscuits, Huntley and Palmer’s from 1822-1976.
Today Reading is a commercial centre, with involvement in information technology and insurance. Surprisingly despite its proximity to London, Reading has a net inward commuter flow. Reading is located:
- 40 miles east from Swindon
- 27 miles south from Oxford
- 41 miles west of central London
- 16 miles north from Basingstoke
It is served by the M4 motorway and the Great Western Main Line railway, ensuring easy access to the rest of the country.
By 2020 Reading will have more connections to London thanks to the Crossrail build. The trains which will start in Reading and go all the way through to Shenfeild in Essex, which will only take you an hour and a half, will stop throughout the capital as well as stops in Slough and a branch to Heathrow Airport.
Between December 2014-2020 property prices are expected to increase by 42.7 %, it's expected the price per square foot in Reading will raise from £350 to £500 by the end of 2020.
Rent is also expected to increase due to the Crossrail build by 27.1%. Rent in the area for a two bedroom property was on average £1,250 which is expected to increase to £1,590 by 2020. The number of people who private rent properties are at 26.1%.
It is ranked the UK’s top area for economic success and wellbeing, according to factors such as employment, health, income and skills. The Borough of Reading had a population of 155,698 in the 2011 census, an increase of 8.8% since the 2001 census.
Property prices in Reading are up a pleasing 13% on 2015 and up by 29% on 2013 according to Rightmove. Prices are 42.3% less than neighbouring Bracknell Forest and Wokingham respectively, they saw a healthy rise of 17.1% in the last year. No wonder Reading is so popular with the excellent employment prospects and great prices.
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There is a large £850 million, project underway as from March 2015 in the Station Hill area of Reading. Station Hill in the town centre is a five-acre site opposite the railway station. Station Hill is set to become, “a fully managed estate in a contemporary urban setting” with 300 residential units.
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Economy & Employment
Reading’s buoyant economy ensures more workers commute into the district than out of it for work.
Reading is an important commercial centre in the region. The town hosts the headquarters of several British companies and the UK offices of multinationals.
The town is sometimes seen as part of the London commuter network as the travel time is only, 40 minutes. Reading is also an inward destination for commuters with some 30,000 people commuting into the town.
Major companies such as:
- BG Group
- ING Direct
- Oracle Hibu (formerly Yell Group)
all have their headquarters in Reading.
The insurance company Prudential has an administration centre in the town, with PepsiCo and Wrigley also having offices here.
Reading has historically been involved in the information technology industry, with the early presence in the town of sites of International Computers Limited and Digital.
Other technology companies with a significant presence in the town include Agilent Technologies, Cisco, Ericsson, Nvidia, SGI, Symantec, Verizon Business, and Websense.
Most of these are in Thames Valley Park, Green Park Business Park and Arlington Business Park.
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The over three-quarters of a billion pounds of regeneration at Station Hill is underway.
In March 2015, the regeneration at Station Hill finally got underway. The £850 million redevelopments will see offices, shops, leisure facilities and apartments, complete with a public square, built at the site near Reading railway station.
The project consists of several high-rise buildings including a skyscraper, retail space, office space, apartments and public spaces covering around five acres.
Upon completion, Station Hill will contain 300 new apartments, as well as shops and restaurants.
The King’s Point development site is set to be underway in spring of this year, with a proposed 103 residential units being built within the high quality 16 storey building.
The site will have a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments, which will be surrounded by commercial and restaurant units all set beside the riverside.
A recently developed site just outside of the town is Sibly Park. With homes in this area having four to five bedrooms and being close to schools, and other local amenities it is ideal for families.
The area is near to a local train station and has regular bus routes into Reading town centre.
Air: Heathrow airport is only 26 miles away. Taking about 40 minutes by road, 50 minutes on bus service and a little under an hour by train.
Rail: The Great Western Main Line railway serves Reading, linking it with Wales and the West Country. Trains into London take around 30 minutes.
Road: The M4 motorway runs to the south of Reading, making an excellent connection with both London to the east and the West Country and Wales to the west.
Bus: A frequent local bus network operates within the borough provided by Reading Buses. Other bus operators include First, Thames Travel and Newbury Buses. ReadiBus provides a local on-demand transport service for disabled people.
Cycle: The OYBike bicycle sharing system operates in Reading, with docking stations at Reading station, Holiday Inn (Basingstoke Road) and Green Park. Reading Borough Council has approved a larger scheme with 1,000 bicycles available at up to 150 docking stations across Reading.
Reading has a wealth of educational institutions. Reading School was founded in 1125 and is the 16th oldest school in England. There are six other state secondary schools and 37 state primary schools within the borough, together with a number of private and independent schools and nurseries.
Reading College has provided further education in Reading since 1955, with over 8,500 students on over 900 courses.
The University of Reading was established in 1892 as an affiliate of Oxford University. It took over the Bulmershe College of Higher Education in 1989, becoming Bulmershe Court Campus. The Henley Management College is situated about 10 miles from Reading, it was taken over in 2008, becoming Greenlands Campus.
Language schools located in Reading include Gateway Languages, The English Language Centre, ELC London Street and Eurospeak Language School.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping: Broad Street is the main shopping area, it runs between The Oracle in the east and Broad Street Mall in the west. There are three major department stores: John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser. Waterstone’s Broad Street branch is in a converted chapel dating from 1707.
Sport: Located in the town are Reading Football Club and the London Irish rugby union team. Over 15,000 runners annually compete in the Reading half marathon, which happens in springtime.
Culture: Reading Festival, has been running since 1971. It takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend and is the second largest of its kind in the UK. The Reading Beer Festival was first held in 1994 and has now grown to one of the UK’s largest beer festivals. It is held for the five days immediately preceding the May Day bank holiday every year.
Green Space: Reading has over 100 parks and playgrounds, including riverside paths. In the town centre is Forbury Gardens, a public park built on the site of the outer court of Reading Abbey. The largest public park in Reading is Prospect Park, home to the Mansion House restaurant, and beautiful parkland.