It used to be the town of the three Bs – beer, biscuits and bulbs – now it is set to become by 2050 a smart and sustainable city built on three core environmental themes:
• Green Tech: – building on Reading’s established technological business base to ensure the city performs strongly in a globally competitive economy
• Rivers and Parks – embracing Reading’s waterways and green spaces to improve the quality of life and providing a vital lung for the city
• Culture and Diversity – Reading’s rich heritage and strong cultural base becomes a fundamental part of the city’s make-up. Reading in 2050 is a cultural destination in its own right as well as providing a great lifestyle for its current and future communities
That’s the aim and objective of the Reading 2050 Vision project team, led by community interest company Reading UK, design and planning consultancy Barton Willmore and the University of Reading, based on its varied and widespread consultations with stakeholder groups including local residents, businesses and Reading Borough Council.
The Reading 2050 Vision was launched last month at the stylish and strikingly different Thames Lido, now nearing completion of a major regeneration at the Edwardian former King’s Meadow swimming pool – a current tangible example of the future major changes anticipated in Reading by the 2050 Vision team.
Calling upon invited representatives of Reading’s business community at the launch to support the 2050 Vision, Reading UK chief executive Nigel Horton-Baker quoted Mahatma Gandhi: “The future depends on what you do today.”
Reading Borough Council’s new chief executive Peter Sloman and long-time councillor Tony Page, now deputy leader of the council, both attended and spoke supportively about the work of the private sector led 2050 vision team.
Professor Tim Dixon, University of Reading, later explained the importance of the 2050 insight: “Many cities in the UK and around the world are developing long-term visions that reflect shared expectations about a sustainable future. A city vision helps us understand how we can work together and mobilise knowledge and resources to tackle longer-term environmental change.
“The Reading 2050 vision is important because it is founded on the principle of both smart and sustainable thinking, taking us beyond short-term fixes, and looking at tangible, longer-term solutions to the challenges Reading will face over the next 30 years and beyond.”
The economic success of Reading has created some of those challenges Nigel Horton-Baker noted: “Reading today is a defacto city with a powerful economy, vibrant retail and leisure centre, established cultural scene and a rich, diverse heritage. For many, economic success has brought with it a high quality of life and attractive work/life balance.
“However, this success also presents a range of socio-economic and environmental challenges, not least in terms of equality of opportunity for everyone. Our vision for Reading in 2050 is one which celebrates and builds on existing strengths and provides a shared ambition that brings benefit to all.”
Barton Willmore partner Kim Cohen, highlighted the need for an ongoing engaged and collaborative Reading community: “The vision for Reading 2050 and the shaping of the city has been driven by more than 21,000 members of the thriving local and business community who live, work and play here.
“They have shared their ideas of how Reading can have a real sense of place and identity that is culturally diverse, supports green tech and celebrates its array of watercourses and open space. It’s fantastic to secure such high levels of engagement from the community who have become really enthused about what Reading could look like if we are ambitious and collaborate.”
The Reading 2050 Vision is a dedicated website – livingreading.co.uk/reading-2050/ – an interactive experience allowing visitors to browse and almost step into the future city.
The University of Reading’s public lecture series on Reading 2050 got underway on October 19: