Reading wins £19.1m levelling up cash for Hexagon and new library

Reading has won £19.1 million of government ‘Levelling Up’ cash to revitalise the town’s theatre and create a new library.

News that Reading Borough Council had been allocated millions of pounds came as the government announced the winning bids today.

The council will now move forward with plans to revitalise The Hexagon theatre and ambitions to create a new library as an addition to the council’s headquarters in Bridge Street.

An artist’s impression shows the proposed library incorporated into the council’s headquarters, which would have a new main entrance.

A spokesperson for the council clarified the library would be contained inside the existing boundary wall of the civic offices.

Meanwhile, at The Hexagon, investment will be used to extend the existing building to provide new space for performances and community uses.

The theatre is already a popular destination for performances, concerts and comedy acts, with big shows due including comedian Sara Pascoe, American Superslam Wrestling and a theatre production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Winning bids for the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ funding were announced on Monday, January 18.

Celebrating the news, Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote) the leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “This is incredible news for Reading and once again confirms the Council’s strong track record of successfully attracting external investment to benefit local residents and our ability to deliver against investment.

“The Hexagon Theatre and Central Library are much-cherished and well-established institutions, both in Reading and across the wider region, but they also come with limitations.

“Our successful bid now offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform both and breathe new life into services, while also supercharging our broader plans for the redevelopment of the Minster Quarter.

“The funding will be used to build a brand new and additional flexible performance and community space at the Hexagon Theatre.

“We will also provide a modern new Reading Central Library at the Civic Offices site on Bridge Street.

“Importantly, both projects will also enable us to ensure much-improved accessibility so that everyone can use and enjoy the facilities.

“This already promises to be a landmark year for Reading, with modern new swimming pools and leisure facilities opening, new and refurbished train stations, new affordable homes and major investments in cycling infrastructure and in local bus services.

“This announcement will now allow us to build on that progress and fits with this Council’s ambition to create new opportunities for everybody in the town.”

Of the £19.1 million granted, approximately £12 million will be invested in The Hexagon and £8 million into a new library.

The Hexagon revitalisation forms part of the council’s plans for Minster Quarter, which would involve building 618 apartments and forming a new public space surrounding the theatre to the rear of Broad Street Mall.

The council began a hunt for developers to deliver its plans last August.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre