As Christmas approaches Wokingham Borough remains a top place for people to visit and continues to buck national trends with new businesses opening up across the area.
Local centres are setting the festive feel with Christmas lights and trees sparking all round for that extra bit of seasonal sparkle. There’s also new lights and decorations going up in the Council’s own regeneration, including a new tree at Elms Field and lights in the townhouses on Denmark Street and in Peach Place.
“We know it’s been a tough time for business this year but the outlook in Wokingham borough remains very positive.” Said Cllr Charlotte Haitham-Taylor, executive member for regeneration. “Our residents have a real interest in shopping local and its great seeing them come back to the towns to support our businesses. People are continuing to observe the latest guidelines and shop considerately, wearing masks, washing hands and leaving people plenty of space to socially distance so it feels like a safe place to be.
“I’d encourage people to shop local and support our shops and markets across the borough. Whether they are looking for a Christmas gift, some locally sourced food or simply an opportunity to relax with their household for a festive family meal there is lots to discover. We’re also offering free parking in Council owned car parks across the borough every Saturday until Christmas so it’s the perfect time to pop in and have a look.
“Despite the current situation Wokingham continues to thrive with new businesses continuing to open up or lease units in our towns. And it’s not just in our Wokingham town centre Peach Place and Elms Field developments that we are seeing the benefit, with the majority of regeneration units already open, let or under offer, but also the wider area and Woodley and Twyford centres which are proving a success and have seen empty units snapped up by new independent businesses recognising what a great place the borough is to trade.”
Twyford has seen the opening of multiple new businesses including the wonderful Rural Pie Company who offer a delicious range of fresh home-made pies and local foodstuffs to eat in their café or takeaway, the Lincoln Coffee House, which is building up a reputation for speciality coffees and fabulous bagels, Victoria Wilson Interiors with their great range of stylish homewares, new chiropractors The Back Room, Woksta restaurant with its exciting new Asian menu, a new dental practice the Dental Implant Centre, and the new BIA Cycling Hub which is set to become a focus for local cyclists with its great range of cycling goods, bicycle workshop and café already proving a hit.
Woodley has welcomed the new Home and Gifts store, the perfect place to find great Christmas decorations and stocking fillers, along with the La’De Kitchen a family owned and innovative Mediterranean restaurant who pride themselves on great food and a warm welcome. Alongside this their regular markets have continued to thrive with lots of new traders including Katies Coffee car, Parkers Creations who sell fabulous Candle gifts and a range of wonderful and artisan food sellers including Sealed with a Whisk novelty cakes, McCarthy’s Bread and Cakes and the Olive Corner who are the perfect indulgence for Christmas treats with their lovely range of Turkish delight, baklava, nuts and olives.
New units opened up in the council’s Wokingham town centre Elms Field regeneration during 2020 include Starbucks coffee store, children’s clothing retailer This Little Piggy, Pratts Pods, who specialise in technology and repairs, Back2Normal chiropractors along with Glowfinity Beauty and Nails, Authentic Turkish Barbers and a new flagship unit for Inspirations Hair and Beauty all of whom have already built up a great reputation in the town. Kaspas Deserts are aiming to open next spring after their original opening plans delayed by the impact of Coronavirus.
Peach Place has also continued to thrive in 2020 with further independent businesses, eActiv Lounge with their great new concept gym and lifestyle offering, and the new Dabbawalla Indian Kitchen which is due to open shortly, join existing popular businesses like MiMis boutique, Elle Won, Sit & Sip, the Leafy Elephant, and the award winning Blue Orchid Bakery in the pedestrianised square.
The council also continues to receive interest in the former Clinton’s unit in Peach Street although has been unable to proceed further this as the unit remains in administrators hands since the company went into administration earlier this year.
Other Wokingham town centre openings include the fantastic new independent Blueberry toy shop on Denmark Street which has an amazing stock of creative and classical toys for children, along with the new Maison Rustique Christmas boutique in the former Wallis use which is proving a lovely seasonal addition for the town. There are also three great new businesses on Broad Street with a new delicatessen, Phil’s Good Food who stock a huge range of local fayre, the new Café, with it’s delicious range of crepes and other sweet treats and the new Chalk Restaurant which has opened up in the old Montague House and offers a great range of food from breakfast pastries, through to a stylish dinner or fabulous Sunday roast.
And there is more to come next year with a new restaurant Rynd due to open up in Wokingham Marketplace and more announcements due for Elms Field and Peach Place where final negotiations are taking place with some fantastic new tenants who fit perfectly with the vision for a town full of great independent stores and high quality nationals and boutiques.
Cllr Haitham Taylor Continued “Its fantastic news, and a real testament to confidence in the area, that so many new businesses are still choosing to open in our towns and villages. Yes, it’s been a difficult year, and we know we’re not through it yet, but the outlook for the Borough continues to improve and look positive for the future.
“Throughout the restrictions we’ve worked closely with our town and parish councils, and with bodies such as Love Wokingham, Twyford Together and the Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative to make sure they can remain great places to shop and stay Covid secure. We’ve also build up contacts with hundreds of local businesses helping them access millions of pounds of Coronavirus grants and support.
“We’re confident that these strong relationships will last moving forward helping us support local businesses in the longer term and as we continue to invest in our vision for delivering regeneration across the borough.”