£20,000 cash boost for Wokingham and Woodley regen plansBy Laura Herbert
October 30, 2012
Plans to improve Wokingham town centre and rejuvenate Woodley’s night-time economy have been given the green light with a £20,000 windfall.
Both towns won a bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government to become a Town Team Partner after failing to land any cash in the Mary Portas Pilot bid earlier this year.
The successful campaigns mean the towns will each receive a £10,000 grant that is not ring-fenced, to help boost its economy.
The bids were approved by local Government minister Mark Prisk MP, and include help from town centre specialists from the Association of Town Centre Management.
Andy Nicholls, Wokingham Borough Council’s economic development officer, said: “It is great news that both Wokingham and Woodley are receiving this support.
“Woodley is further progressed with this as it has the Town Centre Management Initiative (TCMI) in place as a functioning Town Team.
“We are setting up a town team for Wokingham and I expect one of its first tasks will be to decide what to do with this money. Many good ideas came up when we put our Portas Pilot bid together and we will revisit them as well as seeking fresh ideas to support the towns.”
The nationwide multi-million pound programme, announced last month by former housing minister Grant Shapps, was offered to towns that were unsuccessful bidding for £100,000 to rejuvenate shopping areas in the Portas Pilot scheme.
Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, led Woodley’s bid and helped shape plans for new events to promote Woodley to families, create a thriving evening economy and help people starting their own business.
He said: “I am thrilled the minister has approved my Town Team Partner application for Woodley. This is an exciting development which will help us increase the commercial vibrancy of our shopping centre at a crucial time for our economy.
“With the non ring-fenced grants from the Government we can spend the cash on achieving some of our original aspirations for the Mary Portas scheme for our high streets. Plus with the support from specialists in town centre management I hope we will see the great opportunities this presents come to pass soon with Woodley reaping the benefits. Watch this space.”
Mary Holmes, chair of Woodley TCMI, said: “It marvellous we can spend a bit more money in the town centre. We are very pleased and appreciate the money.
“We feel Woodley is good town, especially as it is rated the second best place in the country to raise a family.”
Jacques Lherbier, Woodley town centre manager, added: “I will be working closely with the rest of the management initiative to discuss ways in which our town will be able to benefit from this money.”