20 August, 2014
Eustace Crescent, or rather the estate formerly known as Eustace Crescent, has ceased to be. The run-down area of Wokingham - known locally as 'Useless Crescent' - has been injected with a £13 million investment for a complete rejuvenation. A multi-million pound redevelopment of modern flats and homes will replace the two blocks of 1960s-built flats, and hoardings have already been erected around the site ahead of the demolition.
To fully erase the memory of derelict flats, residents were offered an opportunity to name the new development. Names like New Dawn Rise, Oakingham Lane, Mogg Square and Prince George Crescent were mooted by some of the 50 entrants to the competition, each seeking to draw on Wokingham's history, geography and wildlife.
And the winner is...
It was Marcia Milsom from Winnersh that won the competition, coming up with the name Phoenix Avenue as a nod to the area's impending resurrection from the metaphorical ashes.
"I was truly surprised to win and had forgotten all about entering," she said to bracknellnews.co.uk. "It was one of those spur of a moments; thinking of the name and then entering. I've never won a competition before - only came second in one in the 1980s!"
For her troubles, Marcia received £100 of Marks & Spencer vouchers as well as an invite to donate to a time capsule to be buried at the site. However it is the residents - and would-be residents - of Wokingham who will receive the biggest prize of all: brand new, modern homes ranging from one-bedroom flats to four-bed houses, each with their own private amenity space or garden.
Planning permission for the development is due to be submitted shortly by Wokingham Housing Limited (the council's property company) and unless there is a gross oversight, the plans are expected to be approved. A mock-up of the new estate shows a wealth of new buildings sitting amongst tree-lined roads to create a quaint private community; a far cry from the land's current state.
Commenting on the competition, executive member for general planning and affordable housing Cllr John Kaiser said: "We want to thank everybody who has taken the time to enter this competition. Fifty entries is a marvellous result - thank you. You gave us some really great suggestions and, we the judges, a difficult task.
"Your interest shows just how much you value these new homes on the estate and their role in its future," he added.
Building work could start as soon as this year and is expected to last 18 months. Current homeowners in Eustace Crescent will be reimbursed by the council for any costs incurred by the change of address - perhaps causing inconvenience for residents in the area - but it's much more likely current property owners will be thanking the council for the area's thorough rejuvenation.
Phoenix Avenue, indeed.