Improving Wokingham town centre

I attended the public consultation on the latest Counil and developer plans to improve the town centre on friday at Elms field. I had a useful meeting there with representatives of the developer and the Borough Council.

I stressed that I am keen to see progress, as we need a revitalised town centre. I explained that the public too are generally enthusiastic about improving the look of the shopping area, increasing the range of shops, and making it more shopper friendly. People wish to see green spaces preserved, but accept the need to increase the amount of shopping floorspace available to increase the attractions of the centre.

I said that having enough parking will be vital to success. One of the advantages a smaller town centre like Wokingham should be able to offer compared to the large shopping centres, is easier access and cheaper and better parking near to the shops. The present government has said it will allow Councils to relax previous tight controls on parking, especially where it strengthens a town centre. Shoppers parking is better if there is a free period, and if there is a way of charging which means you do not have to guess in advance how long you are going to be for payment purposes. Wokingham benefits on Saturdays from use of the Council’s own car park.

The Council would be wise to phase the work, to avoid disrupting too much of the town at any given time, and to keep the financing requirements under control. If each phase is completed and let before moving onto the next phase we will keep vitality in the town, and avoid large cash needs from the Council against property which might prove more difficult to let if too much is built all at one go.

The Council is to be supported for wishing to improve our town centre. Success will reinforce success. If the first phase is popular and lets well, it should be possible to create a reinforcing movement to a a busier and more profitable shopping centre that serves customers better.

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6 Comments

  1. Simon George
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    You consistently mention the needs of motorists. I hope you understand the benefits of encouraging cyclists by providing suitable infrastructure for them in any new development. Cycling has health benefits and reduces congestion and pollution.

  2. Gwynneth Hewetson
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I too was at the Regeneration Planning Consultation and was questioned by more than one resident with concerns that we will not have sufficient parking as we are losing some existing car parks. When I collected my car from the Elms multi story at 3:15pm there must have been a hundred plus empty spaces. Why are people so exercised about the issue when an existing facility is so underused?

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Gwynneth

      Why is it so under used.

      Simple

      Because people do not want to pay at all, that is why out of Town shopping has grown in the past couple of decades.

      Use an out of Town car park and you can take as long as you like, even have a coffee if you want, and no charge.

      Use a Town Car Park and you have to guess how long you will be, pay in advance, and if you meet a friend or family member and want a cup of coffee or a simple chat, you have to refuse or risk being fined.

      That is why I park in the side roads where there is free parking for 2 hours at a time if going to Town for simple shopping and a for a look around, or use 30 min Rose Street, if its just a quick trip to the Bank.

      But the above still applies.

      If you travel and drive abroad you may have noticed that other than in major Cities, all Towns have free parking and lots of shops trading.

      I overpay to use the roads with road and fuel tax, why should I pay again to stand still with parking fees ?

      Simples.

  3. Stephen Wood
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Another supermarket? Seriously? I understand the need to be able to pay for this development but surely there is another method of raising the capital. The one hope I do have for this abortion of a plan to rip the green heart out of Wokingham in the name of progress is that it will be a green and sustainable build and will be a flagship to other town developments.

    I am saddened to see from the plans that there is not additional school being built when you well know Mr Redwood that the current state of the schools in Wokingham is a shambles with oversized classes, families being ripped apart and catchment areas being ignored.

    I assume that I should prepare myself for disappointment though just like the station road re-routing, the Cricket Pitch development and the proposal for building on every other patch of green space still in the grips of the developers and the council who seem to be on the pay list.

  4. Tony Houghton
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Wokingham should take a leaf out of Borehamwood’s book and charge nothing for the first half hour and 20p for the second!

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Tony

      Agreed if you have to pay at all, but I would make it 1 hour free minimum.

      Payment on leaving is the only fair way.

      Again if you have to pay at all.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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