A new plan for the Elms Field site has been released as Wokingham’s regeneration project continues.
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) today revealed its planning application for the area, which has proved to be one of the most contentious parts of the town centre’s rebuilding.
The plans include shops, residential areas, a cinema, cafes and a hotel. It also features a new layout for Elms Field itself, creating what the council says are new public squares for big events and community groups to use.
We will run a more detailed piece on the plans in The Wokingham Paper of Friday, December 4 – order your copy today.
WBC said that the new town park is the project’s jewel in the crown and, taking on board comments and feedback from local groups and residents, the Elms Field plan has been redesigned to retain many of the existing mature trees, as well as to provide large areas of grassed open space, a larger play area and properly serviced events areas to help support even more community events in the town centre.
Cllr Philip Mirfin, executive member for regeneration and communities, said: “We’ve been working hard on the scheme’s designs incorporating feedback from local residents and businesses and we hope they are pleased with our application. We’ve also been having conversations with potential tenants interested in coming to the town centre and incorporated their views into our proposals.
“I’m really pleased to submit our application, it’s another step forward for our ambitious plans. We’re proposing to keep far more of the existing mature trees, and reduce the overall scale of development.
“More facilities are being incorporated including a new cinema which would ensure the town centre offers more than just shopping, and has things to do during the day and well into the evening.
“We have also designed the areas around the new retail area to ensure it could support things like larger or new markets, outdoor seating for cafés and restaurants and spaces for relaxing and meeting friends.”
The council’s proposals would link successfully with other areas of the town centre which are being regenerated including the Carnival Pool.
Next spring, the council starts work on a new 529 space car park and leisure development at the Carnival Pool.
Then, in 2017, work will start on Peach Place redevelopment which includes a new public square and retail area in the area currently served by Rose Street Car Park.
Cllr Mirfin continued: “We agreed we would lead the regeneration ourselves, rather than a developer, as we wanted to ensure development in the town is carefully managed. This allows us to enhance and strengthen the town centre rather than allowing overdevelopment or consolidation of everything in the wrong location.
“Developing this ourselves has also allowed us to concentrate on ensuring other benefits for the local community including more than 430 new jobs, 151 of these during the construction stage and 283 permanent positions once it’s completed. The proposals would also pay £4.8million back into the area through the Community Infrastructure Levy payment which would be used towards other local improvements.
“I urge local people to have a look at the proposals and submit their comments as part of the consultation period as these will help the local planning authority in making their final decisions about the scheme.”
The full suite of planning application documents will be available to view on the council’s website at the beginning of December by searching for planning application 153125.
It is also available in hard copy at Planning Desk, at the Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham. Copies of key plans and documents will be available to view in the Mall Gallery at the Civic Offices, the Town Hall Information Centre and Wokingham Library. People will be able to submit their comments as part of the statutory planning consultation process which runs until Friday January 29.
Subject to planning permission, work is expected to start on site during 2017 with completion by mid-2019.