Council chief promises town centre regeneration is not 'far off'By Hugh Fort
June 29, 2012
Bracknell's long-awaited regeneration is a matter of “when, not if” and will be “something brilliant”, says the man in charge of ensuring the much-vaunted project takes shape.
Councillor Marc Brunel-Walker, Bracknell Forest Council’s executive member for economic development and regeneration, says he is “utterly convinced” the project will soon start and will “give the people of Bracknell something to be proud of”.
The long-running project is viewed with scepticism by the people of Bracknell, who say they have seen and heard it all before from the council and Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP), the town centre landlords.
But Cllr Brunel-Walker promises work is going on behind the scenes to complete the final part of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process, which means BRP will own the town centre areas marked for regeneration.
He said: “The CPO process is nearly finished, and from there there will be six month Notice of Entry, which means the shops affected will be relocated. They can trade through Christmas and then after that, they will be moved elsewhere and the empty units will be boarded up.
“We’re very keen not to make it look like a ghost town, so we’re going to use boards showing what the development plans are, rather than just making it look derelict.
“When we talk about it, which we do a lot, it’s ‘when’ it happens, not ‘if’.”
Cllr Brunel-Walker explained that the original plans, given planning permission in 2006, had now changed which means the development will be smaller.
BRP recently submitted a Section 73 application to the council, which, if permitted, will mean the plans can be altered before detailed designs can be submitted.
He said: “I have seen some of the designs and it’s good, really good.
“I’m really convinced that we’re coming up with something great for the people of Bracknell.”
Two high profile projects – the demolition and replacement of Winchester House in Bond Way and the conversion of the empty Enid Wood House flats into a new housing block – are both taking shape.
Cllr Brunel-Walker said, despite not being part of the regeneration itself, the two projects, and the new Waitrose store, were signs housing companies and big name businesses believed the regeneration was imminent.
He said: “They’re not directly part of it, but you’ve got to believe these plans would not be happening if these developers and Waitrose thought the regeneration was dead in the water.”
While he could not confirm details of which shops might be in the new town, he said there would definitely be a new cinema, a mix of restaurants, some of which are “quite unusual”, a department store and improved parking.
He called it a “really good mix”.
He said if the council gives the go-ahead to the section 73 application then a public display of the plans will go on show later this summer.
He said: “Will the regeneration happen? Absolutely, I can promise it’s not far off at all and, once it starts, we will do everything we can to get it done as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to businesses and give the people of Bracknell something brilliant.”
Anyone with views on the town can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org