With the great news that many more businesses are allowed to open from 4 July, Wokingham Borough Council continues to work with our towns and villages to keep the main shopping areas of Wokingham town centre, Woodley and Twyford safe.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport, said: “It’s been lovely seeing people come back into our centres, and feedback from local businesses across the borough has been very positive. Residents really want to support our local traders and it’s important that we create the safe spaces they need to do so.
“Our ongoing discussions with Woodley and Twyford don’t show a need for changes to the roads or footways yet but we are continuing to work with them closely to keep this under review. In Wokingham town centre we have already started making changes to the layout in response to feedback from residents and businesses and will be introducing new measures as well.
“In addition to some changes on Peach Street, and along Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road we are also going to be trialling a temporary closure of Denmark Street on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July. This will allow us to create more space for pedestrians and hopefully allow some of the restaurants and cafes to benefit from outdoor seating whilst restrictions on indoor seating remain. We’re just finalising discussions around this and expect to share more information soon.”
Changes planned for the next phase of works in Wokingham town centre include:
Narrowing Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road to a single lane of traffic to give more space to people walking into the town centre. The original design has been reversed to close off the north side of Rectory Road and keep the on-street parking on the south side. This work is set to take place from 8pm on Saturday 27 June (Wiltshire Road) and 4pm on Sunday 28 June (Rectory Road)
Changing the Wiltshire Road, Peach Street, London Road junction to a filter junction rather than signalised junction to speed up the flow of traffic
Creating a delivery bay outside the parade of shops at the northern end of Peach Street to support the businesses in this location who are struggling to get deliveries to their rear access
Trialling a closure of Denmark Street on Fridays and Saturdays from its junction with Market Place to the car park entrance. The trial closure will happen on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July (see update below)
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for economic development and business, said “People are already adapting to the requirements such as queuing safely and sanitising their hands in shops, and we’ve been pleased to see so many businesses taking up the offer of the support packs with posters and floor stickers to encourage safe shopping.
“We’ve also had positive feedback from shoppers about the social distancing ambassadors in the town centres. They provide a friendly face and reassure our residents that it’s safe to come back to our high streets.
“Following on from the success of our original business questionnaire we have launched a new survey targeted directly at businesses in the hospitality sector as we know their needs will be very different from other shops and businesses. We’d encourage businesses to complete it as it will help us give them the support they need to reopen from 4 July.”
The hospitality reopening survey can be accessed at – https://cutt.ly/3ifa91C
The Public Protection Partnership for Wokingham Borough is also holding a webinar on Tuesday 30 June from 10 to 11am to help the hospitality sector get ready to re-open.
For businesses that would like to attend, email email@example.com with ‘webinar’ in the subject line and include the name of the business and contact details.
The council is continuing to monitor the changes and work with residents and business owners alike to make sure the changes make our town centres as safe as possible.
Cllr Jorgensen continued: “When it comes to implementing such a major package of support changes it’s inevitable that not everything will work perfectly first time, or that it will make every resident or business owner happy. We continue to review our plans, listen to feedback and make sure they work as best as they can, especially as we adapt to changing government restrictions as lockdown relaxes.
“There are also some cases where we can’t make changes as the impact on safety or the wider network is too high. Whilst we know some residents are keen to see the short stay bays reinstated at the northern end of Peach Street we’ve continued to review it and it simply isn’t practical as we can’t support traffic reversing out onto a single lane of a busy road, or blocking all traffic whilst they wait for a space.”
Plentiful on street and off street parking remains available across Wokingham town centre, including in the Denmark Street car park which the council purchased in February 2020 to help support the town and its businesses.
Blue badge holders are able to park for free in any council owned car park across Wokingham borough and may stay as long as they like as maximum stay limits do not apply.
Update on Denmark Street trial pedestrianisation
Following further conversations with the Town Council, Business Association and Businesses the details for the trial pedestrianisation of Denmark Street are confirmed as follows
Friday 3 July, 9:30am to 4pm
Saturday 4 July, 8am to 4pm
The road will be pedestrianised from the top of Market Place to the entrance of the car park and a diversion route will be in place taking vehicles along Broad Street, Shute End, Station Road and Wellington Road.
Access to the Denmark Street car park from the south will be maintained at all times. More information about car parks can be found in the latest Where to Park in Wokingham Town Centre leaflet.