This week sees Wokingham’s regeneration come out from behind the hoardings at Peach Place as work begins on scaffolding the frontages of the buildings being refurbished as part of Wokingham Borough Council’s regeneration programme.
This phase of works affects the buildings at the top of Rose Street, which formerly housed Boots Opticians and J Strange Jewellers, and the buildings on Market Place, which currently house Costa Coffee and Superdrug.
Town remains open for business
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development and regeneration, said: “Whilst we know the new development is going to be a fantastic for Wokingham town centre, it’s important that we can keep the town trading as we build the new square and shops. All four businesses affected are great assets for Wokingham so we wanted to make sure they could keep trading throughout the works.
“With this in mind we’re using the same approach as when we refurbished the Clarks and Boots buildings in 2014. We are carefully scaffolding the Market Place facades above Costa Coffee and Superdrug whilst maintaining access to their stores to ensure it’s business as usual at all times.
“Proposals on Rose Street are more extensive and required both shops to be empty before work could start. However, both businesses were keen to remain in Wokingham and the council worked closely with them to find them new homes within the town centre. J Strange Jewellers has moved to a fantastic new store in Bush Walk and Boots Opticians to Market Place.”
Works taking place involve the affected buildings being covered in scaffolding and protective screening to minimise disturbance, before the frontages are removed and replaced with new facades, including new windows and render.
The Rose Street work will also see the building extended with a new corner unit, helping mark the entrance to the Peach Place square with its new restaurants, shops and public toilets, which will be opened as part of the development at Christmas next year (2018).
As with the earlier phase, the new frontages have been designed to improve the appearance of these retained buildings and ensure they can sit happily alongside the new buildings on Peach Street and Rose Street.
Scaffolding works started on Friday 25 August and will continue this week. Work to the front of Costa and Superdrug is expected to complete by early December at which point the scaffolding will be removed.
Rose Street works, including the extension of the building, are expected to complete by May 2018. However, following the initial demolition works new scaffolding will be installed to reopen the adjacent footpath later this year.
Cllr Munro continued: “There’s lots going on in Wokingham at the moment and the town is changing on a weekly basis. We’ve installed new viewing panels at the end of Bush Walk which give a really interesting viewpoint of the development and allow people to see the new square takes shape.
“Whilst we appreciate there is disruption to the town, it is very much still open for business. There’s plenty of parking in the town, including the brand new Carnival multi-storey car park, with a pay on exit system allowing people to stay as long as they like. Even with the works going on there are still lots of things for people to do in Wokingham with a great range of shops, especially independent ones, and restaurants. And don’t forget the Market has moved to The Plaza by Argos and the Brown Bag. We encourage people to support it as well as all the other businesses in town.”