BBC business journalist Tanya Beckett will interview one of the key figures driving radical plans for Reading’s new cultural quarter at the first Thames Valley Property Festival (TvPropFest).

The interview – with Sally Swift, director of Theatre & Arts Reading – will be among the highlights of a day of walks, talks, awards and music, celebrating some of the most exciting property developments in the region and discussing many of the concerns in the rapidly-evolving industry.

There will also be a talk by a different kind of media professional, Neil Usher, the award-winning former workplace director for Sky who designed its innovative headquarters in Isleworth and has written a book called The Elemental Workplace.

The September 13 event, which replaces the Thames Valley Property Forum, will follow a format, similar to that of April’s inaugural Oxfordshire Property Festival, which was a major success.

Delegates at TvPropFest, likely to number over 300 in total, will experience:

* A choice of walks including going inside modern co-working spaces in Reading and a tour of Green Park with news of its future plans.

* Talks and panel debates with leading industry figures under the headings of:

Retail Therapy – looking at the fast-changing high street.
The Smart Cities Agenda – discussing technology and AI.
The Elemental Workplace – considering the fast-evolving office environment with Neil Usher as keynote speaker.
The Local Industrial Strategy – debating how the sector must compete against other land uses.
How to Make a Garden Town Grow – focusing on the ambitious Manydown development in Basingstoke.

* Awards and music during an evening dinner event. Along with Ms Beckett’s interview with Mrs Swift, guests will enjoy entertainment from local performers and the evening will culminate in an awards competition where trophies will be presented to the winners in each of three categories. However none of the winners will be pre-determined. They will each be selected from a shortlist by means of a vote on the evening.

The awards categories are: Tomorrow’s Leader, TV Networker of the Year and TV Leader of the Year.

TvPropFest is on Thursday, September 13 at Green Park. The day is split into walks and talks starting at 10.45am and the awards and music evening which begins with a drinks reception at 5.45pm.

Ms Beckett, who lives in South Oxfordshire, said: “The Thames Valley has morphed from being considered as a corridor to being an economic powerhouse in its own right. It is packed with dynamic, entrepreneurial people and has a distinct energy.

“I have lived there for eight years and love the cohesive, progressive spirit and have watched its identity take shape.

“Buildings have become central to the debate concerning how our lives are developing, with the growth in prominence of clean energy, digitisation and artificial intelligence. The TvPropFest is a great forum to bring all these topics together in under one roof.”

Matthew Battle, managing director of UK Property Forums, publisher of the Thames Tap and organiser of TvPropFest, said: “ After 14 years of Thames Valley Property Forum we needed to change the format and shake it up. TvPropFest is our response and we are incredibly excited about it.

“Initial feedback has been very positive and we are getting an excellent response to this year’s event already. It’s a bit different but we think people will like it.”