Revitalising the Hexagon and Central Library

We are working on exciting proposals to revitalise Reading’s cultural offer. We intend to do this by transforming the much-loved Hexagon Theatre and building a modern new Central Library.

It is our ambition to do everything we can to ensure that all residents, whatever their circumstances or background, can share in the town’s success.

As part of that continuing drive, we plan to submit a £20 million bid for government ‘Levelling Up’ funding. This will breathe new life into our cultural and learning offer for Reading residents.

Our bid

  • A £8 million investment to rebuild Central Library at the Council’s Civic Offices in Bridge Street. The existing library on the King’s Road is well-used but the dated building is set over a series of floors. This makes accessibility difficult and we cannot improve it without significant investment. A brand-new custom-built Central Library added to the current Civic Offices site would create a modern and open space, offering a much-improved, accessible environment for everyone. The ambition would be to create a flexible space for the whole community that embraces not only the traditional offer of books loans but looks to the future with our digital and learning offer.
  • An £12 million investment to revitalise Reading’s much-loved and popular Hexagon Theatre. This will create an attractive, flexible and exciting new space for performances and community use. The 1970s-built Hexagon has a number of limitations for future improvements due to its age and design. Our proposal is to extend to the right-hand side of the existing building with an entrance directly off Queens Walk. This will offer much-improved accessibility and a new multi-function community space. We will use this space for a wider variety of performances and uses.

If our bid is successful, this will form the first phase of a longer-term regeneration of the Hexagon.

The Hexagon development is part of our ambitious and wider plan to create the ‘Minster Quarter’. The Minster Quarter plan will include building hundreds of new homes in a significant area of the town centre, creating a vibrant thriving new community at the heart of the town. A lot of the housing will be much-needed affordable housing. It will bring new jobs and growth which will benefit local residents and the local economy.

Both proposals focus on improved sustainability. This is part of our commitment to working towards a net-zero carbon Reading by 2030.

Our bid is to the Government’s Round 2 Levelling Up Fund. If successful we will match-fund by 10% from our own capital investment fund.

We plan to submit our bid in July and expect to hear news of whether it has been successful in autumn 2022.

We have created some indicative designs and artist’s impressions. We are emphasising that our proposals are still relatively early concepts. We are now very keen to hear from residents, including regular users of the Hexagon and Reading Central Library, partners and other organisations.

People can feed their comments, questions and ideas to levellingup@reading.gov.uk.

There will be more chances for residents and stakeholders to feed into the design process if our bid is successful.

The Government’s £4.8 billion fund runs until 2024/25. The aim of the fund is to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life for local residents. The grants support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets. Find out more about the Levelling up Fund.

In addition to our £20 million cultural regeneration bid we are developing a £20 million transport bid. The transport bid proposes investment in sustainable transport infrastructure, focusing on West Reading and South Reading. The schemes are centred around meeting the transport needs of the key areas of deprivation in Reading. This will help with connect these areas with education, employment and skills centres. It will also reduce the impacts of congestion such as poor air quality across the road network. This funding would complement the £26 million Bus Services Improvement Plan investment we’ve recently secured.