This section answers any questions you may have about the current proposals for the regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre and the surrounding areas. However if you need more information you can contact us directly.
Town centres are central to our community. They offer a base for small businesses and jobs to grow and are often the hub for community life. Our Borough is set to grow with the addition of approximately 13,000 new homes
When the Council decided to step up and act as developer themselves they made a decision that the Regeneration projects had to be self funding and not rely on any subsidy from local tax payers.
You can find out more about the approach to funding, benefits for residents and the overarching costs for the project on the Financial Viability page of the website
You can keep up to date with the latest programme for what's happening when on the Delivery section of the website.
As well as an overarching plan showing how the different projects fit together, there are also individual pages for each of the phases where we will be sharing more detailed programme dates as they are confirmed.
You can also see the latest updates and images from across the town on Delivery Update page.
Regeneration will help to secure the future of our town by providing the facilities our residents and businesses need right here in Wokingham.
It will help provide greater variety and choice, better providing for daily needs and keeping people here in the town centre.
It will be a significant investment, creating jobs, sustaining and strengthening the economic future as well as creating a vibrant, attractive town for residents now and in the future to enjoy.
We want to ensure that we build a town centre fit for the 21st century and beyond. The proposals need to ensure the right spaces and facilities are available to Wokingham's growing population as well as support and strengthen our community.
The regeneration project is all about giving our local residents the things that they need right on their own doorstep. It will bring a range of improvements to the town including a better variety of new shops and businesses, sustainable homes, improved public spaces and leisure facilities.
For businesses the proposals create an attractive retail mix for the town, strengthening the independent and attractive offering in the town centre as well as increased space for the market and special events.
The regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre is focused on key areas in the town; Peach Place, Carnival Pool and Elms Field.
At Peach Place we have secured planning consent to redevelop the area around the Rose Street car park to become a new pedestrianised public square which will be surrounded by new shops and restaurants facing into the square and others facing out onto Peach Street. It's an exciting development which will create a great space for local people to relax or for events like bigger and better markets or more entertainment. We are also creating some new homes facing out onto Rose Street so the development integrates better with the existing road, and have added some apartments above the new retail to help make the development feel secure and help offset the costs.
At the Carnival Pool we have secured planning consent for Phase 1 which will see the development of a brand new 529 space multi-storey car park at the rear of the site to help meet the needs of a growing Wokingham. We will also be using some of the ground floor for leisure use, including a new bowling alley.
We are also working up ideas for Phase 2 of the Carnival Pool project which will see improved swimming and other parts of the site redeveloped with some new homes, and additional leisure and commercial space including a large extension to the leisure centre which could include a bigger gym, improved changing facilities, studio spaces and a large four court indoor sports hall. The hall is being designed so it can also be used as a proper performance space to bring entertainment to the town and support community events.
At Elms Field we have secured planning consent for a mixed use development which will help provide the improved mix and variety of retail and leisure facilities that our town needs with proposals such as new shops and restaurants, a new boutique cinema, a foodstore and a hotel in response to local business needs. We are also delivering new homes for the town and moving the existing Elms Road so that the we can create a fantastic improved town centre park, linked directly to the new public spaces and with facilities such as a much better play area, services to help improve events like the local fayres and festivals and areas where people can relax and socialise.
The decision to separate the two applications and bring forward Peach Place separately was made to allow for further consultation on Elms Field in 2015.
Wokingham town currently lacks the range of leisure facilities you would like to see in a town of this size.
We want to see more opportunities for residents to access leisure facilities right here in their town centre and by creating a new leisure hub, with a bigger leisure centre, new bowling alley and other leisure facilities, we can start to offer them the better choice they deserve.
These facilities will also help compliment the other improvements to leisure in the town centre including the proposals for a boutique cinema at Elms Field and public spaces for entertainment and events across the town centre.
There is a growing demand for residential accommodation within town centres across the country, and especially in Wokingham.
Town centre living means residents are close to the facilities that are directly available such as shops, leisure, doctor’s surgeries and public transport links, helping make it one of the most sustainable types of living choice.
Bringing people to live in the town centre also helps create a vibrant feel to the area, increasing footfall throughout the day and evening, and helping to create a safer environment for all.
We're also using the income from selling the residential to offset the costs of delivering regeneration for the town and to ensure the project is self financing and does not rely on support from local tax payers.
Throughout the process we have been talking to local people and businesses about our proposals for the town and they have helped shape the ideas coming forward.
We continue to involve local people in the design process and offer opportunities to get involved with public workshops and events at key points in the process.
You can find out more on our events page where we will post details of any upcoming events
We decided to step in after many proposals put forward by private developers failed, and the motivations of private developers are in many ways very different to ours - private developers have different aspirations and have to meet certain profit margins.
As a council we can take just as much notice of the community benefits as commercial profit and as such we are able to bring forward a more balanced scheme that meets the needs of Wokingham, its business community and ensures there is the proper investment in community facilities.
Acting as developer also means that any financial benefits from the scheme, such as income from any sales or rent from tenants, will come back to the Council to reinvest in services and projects which benefit the community for years to come.
We want to build on Wokingham's strengths and offer something different from larger shopping destinations like Bracknell and Reading.
The current offering in Wokingham although well regarded, is limited in certain areas and does not offer the range of shops to attract people to town. Local people have told us they want Wokingham to retain its unique character and not to become like our neighbours. We see the opportunity to bring some well-known names to the town, which will help anchor the development, and also want to strengthen the niche and independent offer that will help offer a different shopping experience and support the Market Town.
We need an anchor foodstore to attract people into the town centre. Currently, most local people use out of town supermarkets which diverts trade away from the town centre. An anchor store will actually support local businesses by increasing the number of people in the town centre. People making regular visits to the foodstore will result in more people visiting the town centre and then going on to other shops, cafes and services.
A specialist planning consultancy NLP conducted a study of our shops in 2014 which shows that there is a lack of food retailers in the town centre. The study is based on current population levels in Wokingham and the increase in the number of homes being built in and around the town in the next few years.
Quite simply the more people living in the town, the greater need for a foodstore.
Yes, our proposals for Elms Field include a Premier Inn hotel.
It’s important the town centre can offer the types of facilities that our local businesses tell us are critical for them to remain in the area.
We also know that a hotel helps generate additional footfall in the town centre, helping us support the local shops and businesses during the day and into the evening.
Although early consideration was given to putting this facility on the Carnival Pool site the decision was made to locate the hotel on the Southern part of Elms Field to wrap the rear of the new foodstore building with a more attractive frontage and help create a gateway building at the south of town.
Following further consultation with local people on the types of leisure facilities they would like to see in the town centre and the proposals to extend the existing Carnival Pool to create a large leisure centre with indoor sports halls, studio spaces and a larger gym, there would also be insufficient space available to deliver the hotel alongside this development as well. As such Elms Field remains the best location.
How do you know that these kinds of retailers you are trying to attract to Wokingham are interested in the town?
We have been working closely with a range of partners including Strutt & Parker, one of the country's leading commercial advisors, to identify companies interested in coming to Wokingham. We continue to market test our scheme to make sure it will attract the right type of retailer once built and, as a major town centre landlord, we are also regularly approached by businesses interested in coming to Wokingham.
We know one of the main issues preventing the right companies from being here at the moment is the lack of suitably sized spaces and business units in the town. The new scheme will mean we will be able to meet these needs and bring in new businesses to Wokingham.
When the council first bought the shops in the town centre the majority of the units were empty, looking unattractive and discouraging people from coming to town. Since owning it we have made sure the shops have come back into use and have helped to bring back footfall.
Over the years we have been active in helping support the Wokingham Town Team, and it's successor the Business Association, to ensure that existing retailers have a collective voice. The Business Association is able to meet on a regular basis with the Council's Chief Executive to ensure that issues affecting the town can be discussed and they can help influence decisions made locally.
We have also been consulting with local businesses and asking for their input into the regeneration proposals to ensure that the business community is a fundamental voice and part of the developing scheme. You can find out further information on our dedicated business information section.
Since starting work in the town centre the Council has worked with the Business Association to put in place a variety of schemes to support local businesses including funding specialist ratings advisors to help them claim rebates or other reductions in business rates, and funding marketing specialists to help them promote their businesses.
The Council continues to look at all options when considering new purchases around the regeneration project. The Council will always consider purchasing sites if they offer a good financial and community return to the taxpayer.
Whilst being 21st Century buildings, which have been designed with the flexibility to meet the needs of an ever changing high street, the design takes reference from the existing town centre and comments made during consultation, including elements such as first floor bay windows and varied roof lines.
A mixture of materials, primarily brick and render are proposed for the scheme to ensure that they reflect the existing buildings within the town centre.
The team has worked closely with the planners and heritage officer to identify the right approach as part of the planning process, and has engaged with local groups and residents to look at the detailed designs.
Many private schemes fail because they try to do too much at once and simply can't deliver it all. The council were very careful in deciding the extent of their initial plans for regeneration to ensure that it was both financially viable and deliverable for the town.
As can be seen from the Town Centre Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) the Council fully expects improvements to extend all around the town in the longer term. We view these initial regeneration proposals as a catalyst to encourage further improvements, both public and private, within the town centre.
Wokingham Borough Council wants to make sure people are able to find the latest news and information about regeneration projects across the Borough, so it has created a standalone brand and identity to make it easier to get in contact and find out about what's going on. This is to ensure that the regeneration proposals and story are clearly accessible to all audiences – including residents, businesses and prospective businesses.