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Name: Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration
Location: Wokingham, United Kingdom
In 2009 Wokingham Borough Council identified the need for a major regeneration of the Town Centre to counteract a failing retail and leisure offer, lack of town centre living and competition from nearby competing centres such as Bracknell and Reading. Peach Place was an outdated retail precinct/car park occupying a prominent position at the heart of the Town Centre. Elms Field was a large but unloved park, bereft of investment, hidden and underused. However, it formed a unique amenity space and marked the southern gateway for both road and rail. Closely following Wokingham Borough Council’s vision, Benoy reimagined the town centre as a thriving destination for commerce and urban living, with modern retail formats, F&B, leisure and a significant quantum of residential across two mixed-use developments at Peach Place and Elms Field. Importantly this would create a much enhanced town centre offer for 10,000 new homes being delivered at the town’s southern periphery. The combined regeneration of the two sites would anticipate: Creation of 750 new, local jobs, £21m in additional wages to the local economy, £2m in additional annual tourism spend, affordable housing in the town centre and act as a catalyst for further regeneration.
Through extensive engagement with the local community, planning officers and technical advisors, Benoy’s design process absorbed valuable insights to create a design that would balance the needs of both key stakeholders and the wider community. Peach Place opened in 2019 and with its new civic square, provides a focus for the town centre, stitching together key retail routes and supporting seasonal events. The new designs for Elms Field saw the reinvigoration of a key community space, with retail frontages, cafes and new housing creating a sense of enclosure and definition, whilst the addition of a new children’s play area further brings the community together. The project was awarded the Royal Town Planning Institute’s award for Excellence in Planning for a Sustainable Economy in April 2020.
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