Opinions split over town centre regeneration plansBy Jon Nurse
July 18, 2012
The latest plans to save the ‘dying town centre’ divided opinion when they went on show to the public.
More than a thousand people attended the exhibition in Elms Field on Friday and Saturday, and almost 100 completed feedback forms raising concerns about building style, traffic and the amount of green space.What Wokingham Thinks: What's your impression of the town centre regen plans?
Feedback from last summer’s consultation was fed into the designs, but the town centre regeneration team will take the latest reaction to the plans back to the drawing board.
Project manager Bernie Pich said: “I’ve heard quite a few views saying ‘we need this now – the town is dying’.
“A lot of people have been filling in the feedback forms that we will collate, publish on our website and then look at how we can incorporate them into how we’re moving forward.”
Wokingham town centre will be transformed over the next four years with refurbishment and new retail in Peach Place, together with new shops, homes and a public park in Elms Field.
Nick Sims, 36, of Barkhart Gardens, said: “I think the town needs the regeneration. I’m not entirely convinced about some of these plans but I appreciate they have a difficult job.
“I think they are trying to do too much with too little in Elms Field. I’m not sold.”
Wokingham Town Councillor Barbara Bench said: “I like a lot of what I’ve seen, but I feel they haven’t captured the character of Wokingham.
“I think the plans for Peach Place are a little too modern and I know a lot of young people feel the same. We want it to stay as a market town.”
Iain Murdoch, 28, of Reading, added: “I think anything would be better than the way it is at the moment. I haven’t got a problem with it at all.
“If there isn’t any regeneration I think people might stop coming here. I do wonder if they’ll be able to fill the shops up though.”
Alistair Corrie, executive member for regeneration and affordable housing, said: “I think the team has done an amazing job. Everyone that has come has been impressed with the amount of effort that has gone in.
“We are listening as we want something that is modern but still Wokingham.”
Beverley Dennis, of Dales Lane, said: “It’s about time Wokingham is redeveloped. It will be good to get rid of some of the 1960s buildings.
“I think the roads would be much nicer if they were closed to traffic, even if it was just for a few hours during the day – people like shopping where there are no cars.”
Malcolm Hay, 55, of Ellison Way, added: “There are some good elements to these plans as well as some dubious elements. I don’t understand the need for a hotel and food store.
“I’m really concerned about the traffic problems. Getting in and out of Wokingham is already a nightmare.”
The exhibition will be in the council offices in Shute End until the end of the month.