An exciting 2016 beckons for Katesgrove Hill

Reading year of Culture 2016

2016 is Reading’s year of culture and events are being held all over the town. This coincides with the 25th reincarnation birthday of Katesgrove’s own Rising Sun Arts Centre. Meanwhile, Reading’s growing pains means that the stand-off between development and residents doesn’t look like it will end any time soon, and the struggle between social need and council budget cuts appears to be reaching a crisis.

Reading year of culture

Reading hosts a year of culture in 2016. The Reading UK Community Interest Company (CIC) say that the year of culture is designed to bring new artists and experiences to the town.

Each month has a different theme. January starts with fitness, although for those of us more inclined to stay indoors in the winter, there are also music and theatre events.

A dedicated Reading 2016 website will be launched in the new year, but you can also follow Reading 2016 on Facebook or Twitter.

Rising Sun Arts CentreRising Sun Arts Centre logo

The Rising Sun Arts Centre on Silver Street will be celebrating its 25th birthday on 5 February 2016 when local musicians will recreate the musical flavour of 1991.

South Street Arts CentreSouth Street Arts Centre logo

Reading Borough Council is likely to make an announcement about the future of the South Street Arts Centre in February 2016. The council may consider closing the centre if a funding bid to the Arts Council doesn’t succeed. Over 8000 people have signed a petition to save the venue.

University of ReadingUniversity of Reading logo

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) on Redlands Road will reopen its galleries and gardens in summer 2016 to show off their new Our Country Lives redevelopment. MERL says this will involve creating new galleries designed to deliver a more engaging experience for visitors and connect people to the countryside by revealing the relevance of rural life to modern, urban lives.

The University plans to demolish St Patrick’s Hall on Northcourt Avenue and replace it with a more modern accommodation block. Over 800 people have signed a petition to save the building.

Whitley Community Development AssociationWhitley CDA

WCDA will be investigating financial inclusion in Whitley early in 2016. They are a looking for local people to help them in this surveying task and they expect to make recommendations on the results of the survey later in the year.

The group researched community transport issues in Whitley last year and presented their findings to interested parties such as local schools and public transport providers. WCDA expect recommendations to be returned about how to address these issues from their partners in late January.

ACORN Reading

ACORN Reading are conducting a survey into housing agency’s business practices in Katesgrove and plan to publish a list of the best and worst housing agents in the area.

Milman Road Health Centre Entrance via the Pharmacy

External works to the health centre are due to complete in March 2016, and the full refurbishment completed by the end of June 2016.

In the meantime, access to the regular Have Your Say meetings run by Thames Valley Police in the health centre may have to change.

Green Park StationMillenium Madejski Hotel

The great tradition of joined-up British public infrastructure projects has been honoured by the decision to delay the electrification of the Basingstoke to Reading line to 2019, although the new Green Park station will be ready in 2018. Apparently, this means that no trains can stop there for a year, throwing plans for Royal Elm Park into a spin. Things are bound to get sorted out now that politicians have become involved.

Revenge of the HMOsThe Woodley Arms

There are a number of plans for new ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) in the area. A property developer was refused permission to replace the defunct Woodley Arms pub on Waldeck street with a block of flats in March 2015, but appealed the decision and may try again this year. Meanwhile Katesgrove councillor Matt Rodda has called for local opinion on a proposal for a new large HMO on Swainstone Road.

Local electionsReading Borough Council logo

A third of Reading Borough Councillors are up for election on Thursday 5 May. The Whitley Pump hopes to provide more details closer to the time. In the meantime, tell your councillors what you think!

Reading science week

Reading enjoys a science week from 11-20 March. Reading Film Theatre is showing “The Martian” and hosting a talk on the feasibility of farming on Mars on 15 March, and the Rising Sun Arts Centre is showing “Godzilla” (1971) followed by a debate on nuclear power on 18 March. There are other events around Reading too.

Arts, museums and heritage shows 

The annual Whiteknights Studio trail will be held on the weekend of 11-12 June. Artists in the University and Katesgrove Hill areas will open their doors and studios to members of the public. Later in the year, St Joseph’s on Redlands Road will hold its annual charity arts fair. The Rising Sun Arts Centre often holds arts fairs too, although dates are not yet known.

Reading’s Heritage Open Days will be held 8-11 September. The details about what will be available are not finalised, but the 2015 venues were fascinating.

Reading Museum is hosting an exhibition on Reading railways and is looking for contributions from local people.

Council budget cutsReading Borough Council logo

The ongoing drama that is the scale of council budget cuts deepened at the end of last year when it was revealed that central government required them to shave an extra £5 million off their budget by the end of spring 2016. The South Street Arts Centre is already under threat (see above) and we don’t yet know how this latest act will play out.

Reading Local Plan2 October - Grass Cut

The content of Reading’s local plan will be decided after an ‘issues and options’ consultation in January. The terms of the consultation were approved by the Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee in November 2015.

The consultation will ask questions about the building of new homes as well as industrial and business development, about sites which could be developed or retained as green space, and even about the future planning policy on pubs. The plan will define Reading’s planning and development framework for the next 20 years and will have a direct impact on life in the Katesgrove area and where Reading’s heading.

Katesgrove Community AssociationKatesgrove Residents Association logo

The Katesgrove Community Association will be holding its annual fair in May.

The Whitley PumpThe Whitley Pump

Our blog will continue to cover local events, news and views and will try to keep the What’s On page up to date. We have a huge list of things we’d like to cover and we’d love it for other people to help us with them!