The council’s Peach Place regeneration is set to get even better as plans to completely refurbish the former Marks and Spencer unit on Peach Street are submitted for planning approval.
The proposals, which include improvements to the frontages facing onto Peach Street, Peach Place and the Rose Street car park, would also see the ground floor space divided into two retail units and a gym, with the first floor converted into new offices benefitting from their own terraced gardens for staff to enjoy.
The Rose Street car park remains unaffected by these plans and will continue to offer short stay visitors parking the town centre.
Designs can be viewed on the council website by searching for planning application 202757.
“I’m really pleased to be submitting plans for the refurbishment of this town centre building and the council continues to invest in our borough.” said Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration. “This building is an important part of Wokingham town centre and it has been crying out for improvement for many years. This is a real opportunity to not only enhance the look of the town centre by replacing the 1960s shop front, but also help reinforce footfall by introducing new shops, offices and a gym.”
If approved, the plans would see the original Dutch gable on Peach Street retained and improved, whilst the adjacent 1960’s glazed section would be completely replaced with a new gabled façade, designed to be a better fit with surrounding properties and to create improved entrances for the new shops.
The remaining frontages facing onto the car park and the new square would also be refreshed, replacing the existing cluttered façade with a simpler tile and brick approach. These proposals have been designed to work better with the Peach Place square, Bradbury Centre, and Wokingham Medical centre, as well as to take into account public feedback during consultation on the main regeneration designs.
Cllr Haitham Taylor continued: “When we bought the site in 2017 we decided to separate it out from the other regeneration projects to focus our efforts on delivering Peach Place and Elms Field. We also wanted time to work up the right designs for this site as it was important that the plans would work well with Peach Street, where we want the focus to remain on retail and business, and with Peach Place where the focus is more on leisure and entertainment around the new square.
“Over the past few decades the demand for giant retail boxes like this existing building this has changed, with many across the country lying empty for years. By breaking it down into more useable units and bringing in new uses, we aim to give the site a new lease of life for years to come.”
“We’ve been pleased to work with Forces Support as a temporary tenant for the past couple of years. It was a great opportunity for them to take on a short term let in the town and raise money for a good cause. We were keen that the unit didn’t remain empty whilst we looked at options for the site, especially as it was the only through access to the Rose Street car park until we reopened the Peach Place square.”
Public consultation on the planning application remains open until Thursday November 26, with the plans expected to be considered early next year.
Any subsequent works will be carefully planned to minimise impact on the town centre as much as possible.