There was celebrating in Wokingham in December as the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration project won the Best Housing, Regeneration or New Build Initiative award at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards 2020 on December 16.
The annual awards recognise the very best in local government frontline services across the UK with winners required to demonstrate how their projects and initiatives have improved their areas as well as how they have overcome challenges to achieve success.
“The APSE Service awards are one of the most coveted accolades given in the public sector, so to find out the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration had won the 2020 award was fantastic news” said Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration. “The level of competition was incredibly high this year, with some great projects from across the country so this recognition is a real reflection of how great the town is doing and how the regeneration was designed with the community at its heart.”
“Since the regeneration started, Wokingham has continued to welcome new businesses and residents have embraced new public spaces, such as Peach Place and Elms Field. Despite Covid, there remains a real buzz around the town, and we very much hope to see this grow in the next year as we emerge from the current lockdown. We are looking forward to returning to normal and reigniting our plans for rolling out things such as free entertainment in Peach Place.”
Announcing the winners APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said “After a year of such turmoil for our communities every finalist and every winner thoroughly deserves to be recognised for the fantastic work they do at the frontline of local public services. I commend you all"
Adding to the comments APSE National Chair Cllr Mark Pengelly said “The health pandemic has demonstrated that local council frontline services are the fourth emergency service, supporting people of all ages with services from parks to school meals, from collecting bins to caring for older people. Today is their day. Congratulations to you all.”
With work on the first two phases of the town centre regeneration at Peach Place and Elms Field now complete, work continues on the final Phase which will a brand new Leisure Centre and Library hub open on the site of the former Carnival Pool.
Cllr Haitham Taylor continued “Work at Carnival is going incredibly well and our contractors Pellikaan have progressed quickly since starting on site in October. Much of the initial preparatory works have been completed, ready for final ground works and utilities works to start in the next couple of months.
“When it opens in 2022, the Carnival hub is going to become a real focal point for the community. With its state of the art new leisure facilities, improved library and dual use spaces which can be converted for community events and performances, it is a landmark project for the area.
“And best of all, as with the rest of the regeneration, it’s being delivered at no cost to the tax payer with the developments self-funding through income from residential sales and rent from the new businesses. Something we are sure contributed to our recent award win, which recognises how the same investing in the community, for the community, model could be used elsewhere.”