A major redevelopment of Reading has been confirmed, with £500 million being spent on the project, which aims to regenerate the Station Hill area.

Councillors have given the green light to plans to build new offices, shops, leisure facilities and apartments, with a public square, on a five-acre site. The existing buildings at Station Hill are to be demolished under the terms of the proposals.

Councillor Tony Page, speaking at a meeting of Reading Borough Council's planning committee, stated that Station Hill is an "ugly, tatty area with no architectural merit" and the sooner it can be improved, the better.

Sackville Developments Reading, which is a partnership of Benson Elliot and Stanhope, is behind the plans, which involve 1,200,000 sq ft of development. Offices will make up the majority of the regeneration of Station Hill, but it will also include shops, leisure use and about 300 flats.

Jason Margrave, development director at Stanhope, described the project as a "massive step forward for the town centre with huge private investment to transform Station Hill into a new place to work, shop, live and enjoy".

Phil Irons, partner at Benson Elliot, added that the firm is delighted to have secured consent for the redevelopment of this critical town centre site. He said: "We will be starting on site in 2014 and aim to deliver the first of the four office buildings by 2016."

As well as all of the shops, offices and flat being built at Station Hill, there will be a remodelled Garrard Street car park that features a five-a-side football pitch and running track on the top.

The massive new construction project in Reading comes after the release of the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, which showed the fastest rise in output and jobs since August.

November's figure was revealed to be 62.6, which was up from the 59.4 in October. Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit and author of the UK Construction PMI, noted that construction growth is still coming from a low base.

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