Regeneration to speed up in 2012By Victoria Smith
December 28, 2011
The council is promising town centre regeneration plans will gather pace in 2012, despite a year-long delay in signing legal agreements with the project’s development manager.
Wokingham Borough Council is still in negotiations with Wilson Bowden more than a year after it announced the developer as its preferred development partner.
Many months on, the nature of the deal has changed and negotiations are still taking place to fine-tune a deal with Wilson Bowden as manager of the project.
A spokesman for the council said: “The development agreement with Wilson Bowden Developments has not yet been signed as we are ‘fine-tuning’ certain elements of the agreement.
“It is important WBC take time to get this right and ensure we achieve the best solution for the town.”
This week the council promised 2012 would be an exciting year for the project.
Figures from a public exhibition held in the summer show more than 70 per cent of people who responded support the concept of the town centre regeneration, although the full summary of results has not yet been published.
The council has summarised key comments from the consultation, which include concerns about Elms Field and keeping the market town feel, as well as traffic and parking.
Councillor Matt Deegan, executive member for community regeneration, said: “We were really pleased with the number of people that attended the exhibitions in the summer.
“We are continuing to develop these proposals, taking on board comments where it’s appropriate and we plan to submit planning applications next year.
“People were very vocal at the exhibition, and since, and we are well aware that we won’t please everyone.
“But we did receive a large number of positive comments – it was great that the exhibition allowed positive debate on what is needed in the town centre and how it can be delivered.
“I think we are all clear we need to do something to bring the town back to life – next year is going to be an exciting time as plans will really gather pace.”
Patrick Arthurs, planning director for Wilson Bowden, said: “We were very encouraged with the largely positive response to the indicative scheme design.
“We will continue to work with the local community and technical teams to refine the development proposals and where possible address concerns raised.
“We remain committed to the project and look forward to working with the council in helping to achieve the wider regeneration ambitions and vision for the town.”
The council has plans to redevelop Peach Street, Market Place and Rose Street, and build new shops and homes on Elms Field, including a supermarket and hotel.