John Lewis has named Mill Lane, Reading, as one of its first three sites to build homes. This site has been a warehouse and until recently was the pick-up point for larger shopping items bought at the Reading store.These plans to move into the “build-to-rent” property market are the first step in building 10,000 homes in the next ten years - 5,000 of which will come from schemes using the existing property portfolio. Plans to branch out into housebuilding were announced in early 2020 to diversify its business and at the same time exploit the land John Lewis owns.

The homes would be built for different sized households ranging from studio flats to four-bedroom houses. Short and long-lease tenants would have the option to have their homes furnished by John Lewis.John Lewis aims to set itself up as a housing developer and operator, as well as an already established local business and employer. Integral to the strategy would be a sense of community through incorporating shared spaces and facilities such as roof gardens and fitness studios.

A period of public consultation for Mill Lane, Reading, will take place later this year.