Woodley shopping precinct is not deadBy Jon Nurse
June 29, 2012
There is still hope for the regeneration of Woodley town centre, despite it missing out on a national grant scheme and losing two shops this month.
Clinton Cards and CycleZone stores have closed down in the past three weeks, just after a Woodley and Wokingham joint bid failed to gain selection for a slice of a £1.2 million funding pot as a Mary Portas pilot town scheme.
Jacques Lherbier, town centre manager, said: “We were expecting Clintons would close among the many shops that have, but it’s still very disappointing for the town centre.
“CycleZone had taken the unit on a trial basis but it didn’t work for them.
“Considering the incredibly difficult economic climate over the past three or four years, I think Woodley is doing reasonably well.”
Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative (TCMI) chair Mary Holmes added: “It’s disappointing but shops come and go – that’s the nature of it.”
Woodley will not benefit from the Mary Portas pilot scheme this year after 12 winners were announced from 371 entries.
The chosen high streets, none of which are in Berkshire, will each receive £100,000 to rejuvenate their shopping areas.
Councillor Alistair Corrie, Wokingham Borough Council executive member for regeneration, said: “The fact the bid didn’t win doesn’t change our plans. Winning would have been the gravy on top.
“It would have been great but it doesn’t make us sink into a slump as it’s not exactly a huge amount of money in the large scheme of things.”
Alan Cornish, landlord of the former CycleZone unit in Crockhamwell Road, has applied to extend current planning consent that could see the shop’s use change to a restaurant in the future.
“Obviously we would firstly like to see the space filled,” Mr Lherbier said.
“A restaurant that is open through the day and the evening would be ideal.”
“At the moment Woodley is mostly a daytime operation, but there is quite a big potential customer base and room for a good quality restaurant to run a successful evening operation.
“I think there is quite a bit of potential in Woodley and I can see this in M&S’s proposal to build a food store.
“They must have done research around the area and decided that Woodley is a reasonably good location.
“It’s definitely good for the image of Woodley. The arrival of a big player can draw interest from other investors who could be more involved in evening trade.”