Chance to shape £3m Elms Field plansBy Victotria Smith
April 11, 2012
Townspeople can help shape designs for a £3 million park catering for carnivals and festivals during a fresh consultation on the Wokingham regeneration next month.
Plans will be shown to residents to demonstrate how Elms Field in Elms Road could look and inspire ideas on what facilities people want in their landmark town centre park.
Ideas being put forward include a new children’s playground, community orchard and a large events area to cater for celebrations, such as Wokingham Carnival, Wokingham May Fayre and the Wokingham Food and Drink Festival.
Under Wokingham Borough Council’s plans for regeneration, part of Elms Field will be used for new homes and shops, with a supermarket and hotel earmarked for the old Wellington House site.
Planners now want to finalise finer details for how the regeneration can inject new life into the remaining green space of Elms Field.
A consultation last summer saw hundreds of townspeople give feedback on the town centre regeneration plan, which also includes land in Peach Street, Rose Street and Market Place, where new shops and flats are to be built.
The May consultation will ask people what kind of facilities people want to see in the park and how the park can be designed to work best for a wide range of different uses.
The Wokingham Society has long opposed development on Elms Field, calling for more green space to be retained.
Peter Must, chairman of the Wokingham Society, said members had accepted the plan as it was, but wanted the remaining green space on Elms Field to be treated carefully.
He said: “The last thing we want is for the park to be divided up into little rooms so there is a little bit of something for everyone. It is supposed to be a field and not a series of adventure playgrounds.
“We want there to be a large enough space which is multi-purpose so events like the carnivals and fairs can still take place. We look forward to taking part in the consultation.”
Andy Slay, fundraising chairman for Wokingham Lions Club, said the organisation has been working with the council on Elms Field, as the group had been concerned how it would impact on Wokingham May Fayre, its biggest fundraiser of the year.
However, Mr Slay was convinced the redevelopment of the field would produce a better events area for the event.
He said: “We had been concerned it would be too separate from the Market Place and Denmark Street areas, but having seen more it is not as separate as we initially feared.
“The council is also building water and electricity into the plans for the field.”
Councillor Matt Deegan, executive member for community development, said: “This is another step in the ongoing consultation work with the people of Wokingham. We have been doing this for a long time and each stage we have included their feedback.
“We want it to be somewhere people can hold events and take their children. We also want informal areas and sustainable planting.”
Cllr Deegan added an important design aspect was to manage the transition from the Elms Road shopping parade to the park.
He said: “There will be a strip along the front of the shops where hopefully you can have informal market stands and that market will be different to what we have in Market Place.”
Dates for the consultation will be confirmed in the next few weeks.