'Bracknell regeneration to go ahead'By Hugh Fort
October 12, 2009
The regeneration of Bracknell will still go ahead despite comments from local Liberal Democrats that “hopes of a better shopping centre have clearly been dashed”.
A Performance Monitoring Report released by Bracknell Forest Council says the publication of the regeneration strategy and progress on final designs have been delayed while the council and town centre landlords Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP) review the development in the light of the recession.
But the report says plans to start building new retail, commercial, houses and leisure facilities are on track to begin in December 2010.
Ray Earwicker, Bracknell’s Liberal Democrat prospective Parliamentary candidate has accused Councillor Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, of finally admitting there are doubts over the regeneration.
Mr Earwicker’s comment came after Cllr Bettison told The Standard in a previous story the council and BRP were in the process of devising new ways to move forward on the town centre plans because of the recession.
He said the regeneration of the town centre could now be based on demand, rather than a sweeping rebuild which could lead to a ghost town full of empty buildings.
Mr Earwicker said Cllr Bettison’s comments throw the whole project into doubt.
He said: “The council’s admission the regeneration will not go ahead as originally planned raises serious doubts over whether the original proposals will ever be implemented.
“Little has come of years of planning and residents will feel cheated that, once again, hopes of a better shopping centre have been cruelly dashed.”
Cllr Bettison said the comments were “nonsense” and added: “Does Mr Earwicker have a magic wand that he can use to get rid of the recession?
“If he has, he’s got my vote.
“He didn’t know what he was talking about when he was a councillor and he’s continuing that trend with these comments. Quite frankly, Mr Earwicker is barking at the moon with these comments.
“I suppose he thinks it would be better to rush through, build a load of shops and then have absolutely no one come forward to use them, leaving an empty town.
“Strangely enough, that is not what we want for Bracknell.
“If that is what Mr Earwicker wants, it’s a good job he’s not in power.”
Richard Knight, vice-chairman of the East Berkshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said of the regeneration: “We don’t know what it happening, but in the meantime businesses in Bracknell need to put themselves out there.
“Individuals, large businesses and small business, as well as the council, all need to work together to keep going while the plans for the regeneration are going ahead.
“The larger companies need to help the smaller, local companies by using them, and individuals need to support local companies.”