Slowdown delays town regenerationBy Lucy Allen and Mike Pyle
December 15, 2008
The timetable for work to rebuild Bracknell town centre is up in the air as the credit crunch bites, it has been revealed.
And key stages of the work have been delayed while a team of experts decides how best to proceed.
But the regeneration will still go ahead – unlike in other areas of the country.
A report prepared for Bracknell Forest Council’s chief executive shows that in October this year, the council had hoped to be consulting on its £750 million regeneration strategy.
This month, the council had hoped to be approving designs for the new civic hub, to include new council offices and police station.
And in March 2009, the council was due to approve designs for the new Jubilee Gardens near the bus station.
However, the report says these targets have not and will not be met due to a review of the regeneration programme which started in September as a result of the credit crunch.
The review is expected to continue into the new year.
Council leader Paul Bettison said: “The team are meeting fortnightly to progress things, they are certainly not hanging around.
“The review is about the scheduling of delivery.”
He added: “The original delivery schedule was put together in an economic climate that was very different from the one now.”
Helen Barnett, spokesman for Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP), said: “The development proposals for Bracknell are not immune to the current economic climate.
“In light of this, BRP and Bracknell Forest Council are working together to see what less affected elements of the scheme can be accelerated.”
She added she expected the review to go on for at least another four months. But, she stressed the regeneration was still going ahead.
Adrian Peachey, director of retail investment for regeneration experts Jones Lang LaSalle, said Bracknell’s approach was the best way to stop the entire project failing.
He said: “People believe the current economic will get worse. Pouring money into big projects now is like trying to catch a falling knife – it’s best just to wait until it’s hit the floor and pick it up from there.
“It’s common sense to hold fire, people just cannot afford to take risks at the moment.”
Cllr Bettison revealed in October that the first work in the regeneration scheme could now be done in Charles Square, where ground floor shops could be extended to create bigger units.
That was not confirmed by the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, which is co-ordinating the rebuild, and carrying out the review.