Redeveloping the town centre
Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration
Proof of concept
Redevelopment of Wokingham Town Centre
This award was received for the redevelopment of Wokingham Town Centre. The ambitious project aimed to revitalise three key town centre sites and the local high streets with a range of new commercial units. It also aimed to bring much needed improvements to highways and pedestrianised community spaces, including a large landscaped park and accessible play area.
The project also involved plans to build approximately 215 new homes designed to allow residents to live in a sustainable environment and support the establishment of a vibrant town centre community.
The project attracted an improved range of businesses with national names and high-quality independent traders to help the town differentiate itself from larger neighbours
Commercial rents bought in £4.5m annual income that can be used to fund projects and services across Wokingham Borough
The project provided new roads and improvements to existing roads to add resilience to highways network
Shifting perceptions of the area
How/why did the project benefit the public?
The project bought immediate benefits to the town as the improved range of facilities, businesses and public spaces attracted residents back to the centre reducing their need to go elsewhere and instead invest in the local economy.
Many of the new shops and businesses became involved with the local community, hosting events and activities, and sourcing products from local suppliers. Local employment opportunities also significantly increased with over 550 permanent jobs created in the new shops and restaurants. This was in addition to approximately 350 new jobs created within the construction phases of the project.
The sustainable homes built included Key Worker apartments to help attract hard to recruit professions, such as teachers, nurses and social workers, to the area.
There was an emphasis on creating green open spaces and improved biodiversity across the regeneration. Over 100 new trees were planted along with areas of wildflowers, shrubs and other planting within the park.
What were local planners looking to achieve on the project?
- To create attractive designed public spaces to encourage people into the town and support a sense of community.
- To bring a better retail experience to attract footfall and support new and existing businesses.
- An improved mix of entertainment and leisure facilities to strengthen an 18 hour economy and dwell times.
- To create improved access to the town centre and better transport links.
- To build a range of well-designed homes that would encourage sustainable living.
Justifying the need
How were local planners essential to the project’s success?
Planners played a critical role in the delivery of this successful regeneration project particularly when the project moved from design to the delivery stage.
To ensure the vision was delivered successfully the council decided to take the lead on regenerating the town themselves. They pulled together a team that included planners, architects, engineers, surveyors, financial advisors, lettings agents, construction project managers, and communications and engagement specialists to deliver some of the key projects.
The core role of planners was to manage and coordinate activities across the team and balance the at times competing demands of different disciplines. They also oversaw all stages of the project at both a strategic and operational level.
They also played an essential role in achieving planning consent for the regeneration ensuring that whilst separate applications were made for each of the three main sites, the projects were designed and coordinated in one clear masterplan.