For the latest information on the Wokingham Town Centre development please visit the regeneration scheme website page.
A unique regeneration scheme transforming the centre of Wokingham, that the people of the town have been waiting for, took a massive step forward late last year (November) as Wokingham Borough Council selected its development partner – Wilson Bowden Developments Ltd.
In the current economic downturn, this regeneration project will inject some much needed life into Wokingham town centre and demonstrates the market confidence in the town. Bringing retail, leisure, residential, parking, roads and open space, the project as a whole could create around 750 new jobs and generate in the region of £21million additional wages for the local economy.
Once completed, it will bring hundreds of people to the market town, boosting the local economy – expecting to generate millions of pounds from tourists and visitors alike.
Susan Law, Chief Executive of Wokingham Borough Council commented: "The regeneration will create around 700 jobs and will result in approximately £35m being invested into the local community. This is a great chance for Wokingham to secure its long-term future and to support existing businesses within the town centre. We hope as many people as possible will come to the exhibition this weekend to see the plans."
The town centre regeneration scheme is unique owing to the competitive dialogue route the Council undertook, which means it has had a real say in how the scheme evolves and will continue to have a greater control over the final development as the end owner.
After an extensive public consultation process, the council’s regeneration project was extended to look at the wider town including key sites at Peach Place, Elms Field, and the Paddocks car park, and this consideration to look at the town as a whole, not just in separate sections, was included in the developer’s brief.
The regeneration scheme will offer greater ability to attract existing and new residents to shop in Wokingham therefore reducing the amount of people who visit other local centres. Whilst the scheme does not intend to rival Reading and Bracknell with a ‘shopping mall’, proposals would see more special character and boutique-style shops and recreational facilities, sympathetic to the town’s heritage and culture therefore making Wokingham the destination for the whole family.
The submission scheme, which is subject to further consultation and planning permission, currently includes key elements from the council’s Masterplan for Wokingham town centre:
- Around 140,000 sq ft of additional retail
- Around 13,000 sq ft of additional leisure and recreational facilities
- Around 200 new homes
- An enhanced town park and improvements to existing public open spaces
- Improvements to the road network and car parking
- Improvements to Peach Place and Rose Street areas
- A proposed hotel and a food store
The council has taken on a leading role in driving the agenda for regeneration. It will maintain control over the way in which the town centre regenerates and grows in the long term as well as generating income to potentially support local services and development, as it will own the regenerated town centre.
Last summer (2010), the Council set up Wokingham Enterprises Limited (WEL), which allows the Council to become a long term investor in the town, keeping some of the new assets such as shops and resulting income. This is an innovative approach which will ensure the town centre will remain for the benefit of Wokingham residents, not a commercial investor.
Wokingham Borough Council and Wilson Bowden will be working together during the next 12 months to secure planning consent for the regeneration scheme.