The former Marks & Spencer store in Peach Street has been bought by Wokingham Borough Council, following its closure in the summer.
The store, which has its own car park, backs on to the new Peach Place development. The car park will become a council-owned facility, restoring a short stay option to replace the former Rose Street car park, which forms the basis for Peach Place.
The car park will now be part of the Free After Three initiative and free parking on the three weekends before Christmas – from Saturday, December 9.
As part of the regeneration scheme, the council had previously bought car parking spaces from Marks & Spencer before the store itself closed.
The decision was agreed yesterday.
In a statement, Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development and regeneration, said: “When Marks and Spencer announced they were to close their Wokingham store in July as part of a national shift away from units of this type, the council made a decision to investigate purchasing the property.
“It’s an important site for the town centre as it faces onto Peach Street and Rose Street and is adjacent to the council’s Peach Place development.
“We will now evaluate opportunities this sites opens up. For us it’s important that the site is managed carefully to ensure it remains part of the town centre retail circuit and compliments our wider regeneration plans to create the kind of destination town that will bring people in to shop and enjoy themselves, and offer something different from our larger neighbours in Bracknell and Reading.”
The council will now take over the management of the car park. This will provide short-stay parking for the town centre.
As a council car park it will now be included in the free parking on the three weekends running up to Christmas (from December 9), and in the ‘Free after Three’ scheme which has been put in place until the end of January 2018 to help support local retailers.
For further information on the council’s car parks visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/car-parks