10 July, 2014
Wokingham is a thriving place. Its proximity to London, good schools, low crime rates and proliferation of leisure activities means that this Berkshire town remains popular. In fact, it was named the best place to raise a family in a 2012 national poll. Little wonder that some 30,000 people call it home, with scores of others considering it a prime relocation possibility.
The problem with popular towns, of course, is that the roads can get congested - particularly at rush hour peak times. However, Wokingham Borough Council has pledged great investment into the area with regard to the regeneration of run down parts and the improvement of roads. While much of this appears to be shrouded in mystery until the plans have been officially backed, the council has confirmed it will be making changes around Peach Street.
The redevelopment of Peach Street
Peach Street is a busy, one-way stretch of the A329 which runs through the centre of Wokingham and feeds eventually up into the M4. Understandably, traffic flow along this gateway thoroughfare is heavy.
Plans have now been submitted to redevelop this area, creating new homes and - ambitious though it may seem - actually moving part of the road to ease traffic. The council has received a proposal from Tropic Estates Ltd regarding the demolition of numbers 74 to 80 Peach Street, which includes the red brick office block which is situated on the corner with Cross Street.
Tropic Estates plans to construct an apartment block containing 39 flats, covered parking and a ground floor retail unit. It would also feature a curved corner, Get Reading writes, to provide pedestrians with more pavement space. Apparently, this space could later be used to 'move the road' to facilitate traffic flow.
A warm reception?
Information regarding the proposed scheme has been on display at the Town Hall and according to Tropic Estates' Stephen McGregor, has received a positive response:
"We have taken on board comments from residents and stakeholders and made some improvements to the plans, including the use of traditional materials such as red brick and additional detailing to the window design," he said. "We will continue to work closely with the council and will keep the community updated as the plans progress."
Is it the site for regeneration?
Peach Street remains one of the areas in the frame for Wokingham's 'crucial town centre regeneration' project. The council recently announced it would be spending almost £1.5m on revitalising Bush Walk, which leads from Peach Street. However, rumours have for some time circulated that the council has an interest in buying The Redan Pub and adjoining Haka takeaway in Peach Street itself.
One such rumour is that Marks & Spencer, which is situated next to The Redan, could expand into the vacated pub and takeaway, though a company spokesperson denied any such plans.
Ultimately, local people are just going to have to wait and see, though the confirmed plans are still available to view and comment upon via the council website.