Reading Borough Council (RBC) have listed the ‘Black History’ mural on Mill Lane as an asset of community value after it was nominated by the Aspire community interest company (CIC) as part of their campaign to acquire the Central Club.
“The mural remains of huge importance to the black community, the wider community and the Council, as it represents Reading’s long history of celebrating different cultures and promoting tolerance,” said RBC leader Jo Lovelock.
“The Council is also completely clear it expects any offers received in the next round of bidding for the former Central Club building to include plans to secure the mural’s future. All bids will be fully considered in terms of both the community value included in the bid, and the financial offer for the building itself,” she added.
Listing a property as an asset of community value means that the owner of the property has to inform the local authority before selling it so that community groups get the opportunity to buy it. It also means that the Planning Inspectorate can consider the property’s community value when deciding on a planning application.
The owner of the Central Club is currently the local council, but the regulations apply to any subsequent owners too, until the listing expires on 5 December 2022.
“Aspire CIC are delighted that RBC have been forced to register the iconic ‘Black History’ mural as an asset of community value,” said Aspire chair Keith Kerr. “The black diaspora of Reading can take pride in coming together with one voice to tell RBC that the ‘Black History’ mural must stay because it belongs to us! We organised, lobbied, protested and marched our way to this result. It does not mean the mural is safe; its long term future will only be assured when Aspire takes ownership of the land and buildings of the Central Club.”
Keith Kerr said that he would continue to fight for Aspire CIC ownership of the building and mural.
“We made an offer of a fair market price of £371,000 to the council, which was rejected. It would seem that the council continues to expect the black community of Reading to pay disproportionately for its administrative mismanagement and financial failures,” he said.
- Assets of community value
- The Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012
- Council grants Black History mural asset of community value status
- Aspire CIC