Bidding Period Opens for Former Central Club Building

BIDS are being invited for the former Central Club building in Reading.

The marketing process began last week (March 7). As part of an open bidding process, Reading Borough Council is re-emphasising that bids from any community, voluntary or not-for profit group will be considered alongside bids from commercial organisations.

The Council is also completely clear that all bids are welcome, providing they ensure that the iconic black history mural – which is an Asset of Community Value – is retained and forms part of any new or refurbished building. Reading Borough Council has always been completely clear that it remains fully committed to securing the future of the historic mural and that remains the case.

The closing date for applications will be May 11th after which time all offers received will be fully evaluated. The decision making process will take account of any community value, as well as the financial offer itself.

In July 2016 the Council offered voluntary and community organisations a five-month window to bid for the former Central Club building. Commercial developers or ‘for profit’ organisations were not permitted to bid at this stage and the Council also insisted the iconic mural was retained as part of any proposal. At July Policy Committee last year, the Council decided not to proceed with any of the third sector bidders as it could not be satisfied that any of the bids received represented best value for Council Tax payers in the current financial circumstances.

The former Central Club building in London Street has been empty and unused since 2006. The bidding process aims to identify options to bring the building back into use.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:

“This new round of bidding is a completely open process and bids are being welcomed from all sectors, including any community or voluntary groups who bid in the previous round.

“All bids are welcome, but the Council is completely clear that only bids which ensure the historic black history mural is retained at its current location will be considered. The mural remains of huge importance to the black community, the wider community and the Council itself. It represents Reading’s long history of celebrating different cultures and promoting tolerance. As a Council we remain fully committed to securing its future as part of this process.

“Government funding for Reading has been massively reduced over many years and is failing to keep pace with huge demands for essential Council services we provide, like children’s and adult social care. The Council owes it to the local tax payer to understand the full value of the property, what people are willing to pay for it and to compare these bids with ones which make offers to keep elements for community use.”

Reading’s historic mural dates back to 1990 and is showing signs of deterioration. Last year the Council commissioned a professional survey of the mural in the autumn by experts Arte Conservation Ltd (www.arteconservation.com), who specialise in the treatment of painted structures and whose clients include English Heritage and the National Trust. The survey information will be included as background for potential bidders for the former Central Club site.

The Council has appointed Haslams Chartered Surveyors to act as its selling agent. Anyone interested in bidding for the property should contact the agent on 0118 921 1500 or visit http://haslams.co.uk/find-a-property/properties/349-reading-central-club-reading. Any community groups wishing to bid must also visit Reading Voluntary Action’s website: http://rva.org.uk/article/reading-central-club-bidding-opportunity/

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301