FOR years it languished as a somewhat insipid destination — a stop on the railway journey from London to the more picturesque West Country or Wales.
But Reading, one of the largest and fastest-growing towns in the UK, is now becoming one of the most desirable residential addresses for Londoners.
This month it also grew a whole lot loftier with the launch of Verto, an 18-storey, 180ft new-build by CNM Estates, now the town’s tallest residential tower.
Housing 103 one, two and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses, the homes ranging from 461sq ft to 1,349sq ft, and most have views over the River Kennet and there are three spectacular landscaped roof gardens.
Verto promises luxury fittings (Commodore kitchens, Bosch appliances, engineered oak flooring and underfloor heating) and highlights Reading’s great transport links — Crossrail arrives next year delivering trips to London in under 30 minutes.
Reading is the UK’s largest town not to have reached city status and is increasingly appealing to Londoners struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.
International companies and digital and tech giants such as Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco Systems have set up shop here — digital tech turnover in Reading exceeded £12billion last year and the sector provides over 45,000 jobs. There’s even a John Lewis.
Adding to the town’s appeal is its excellent schools and universities — Reading’s is in the top 30 of the UK’s best 150 universities.
Most of all, compared to London, it is cheap. Reading centre has been revitalised, but even new homes built in the past three years are selling for around £500 per sq ft — higher than the local average of £385 per sq ft but well below prime sites in the capital. Prices in the Verto tower, for example (which boasts bicycle storage and private parking by negotiation) start at £262,250 for a one-bedroom flat.
The apartments, launched this month, are available to move into from autumn this year, but Haslams and Savills, the agents selling them, have already had significant interest.
Mike Shearn, Head of New Homes at Haslams, said the commuting rejuvenation provided by Crossrail opened the town up to workers from the City and Canary Wharf ‘who might not have considered the area as an easily accessible base previously’.