'Get behind town centre regeneration plea'By Victoria Smith
April 17, 2012
A plea for townspeople to move past the myths surrounding Wokingham’s centre regeneration has been made by the project’s departing lead councillor.
As the project moves to the next stage, Councillor Matt Deegan, executive member for community development, called on townspeople to get behind the project rather than oppose it.
Cllr Deegan said there were still chances for local people to influence how the scheme would look, however the key elements of the plan, such as building a supermarket on Elms Field and rebuilding shops on Peach Street, were vital to make the proposal a success.
Cllr Deegan said: “There are a lot of myths being pedalled by those that are A) stuck in the past and B) do not want anything to change.”
Cllr Deegan will be leaving Wokingham Borough Council next month after deciding not to stand for re-election in his ward in Earley.
It is not yet known who will take over Cllr Deegan’s portfolio, however he has been with the council’s regeneration project since it launched more than three years ago.
Plans for a supermarket on Elms Field have sparked massive opposition from groups such as the Wokingham Society. However, members of the Wokingham Town Centre Forum last week said they were pleased with how plans for new buildings were progressing.
Cllr Deegan said: “Wokingham Borough Council has at times conducted consultation badly and I think there a number of residents in Wokingham who will recognise that.
“This project has been different and everyone has commented so during the process.
“We have engaged with a lot of people, we have held regular forum meetings, we held the exhibition in summer last year.
“We have always said to people what we were going to show them wasn’t the final set of drawings for how new buildings would look.
“In the past it has been a bit of a leap of faith as to whether people believe us and now people are starting to believe us that is immensely reassuring. We have got the support of the members of the public – after all it’s their town.”