Boost for revamp is welcomed

Published: 25 Sep 2008 12:000 comments

TRADERS have cautiously welcomed the latest stage of regeneration plans for Bracknell.

The comments come after communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears officially confirmed a Compulsory Purchase Order for the scheme.

The CPO means Bracknell Forest Council can take control of land it does not already own and force owners to sell it. Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, which is carrying out the town centre regeneration, will then buy the land and build on it.

This also means that all land included in the regeneration is now available to BRP.

Commenting on the development, Kathy Hodgson from Naughty But Nice in Princess Square, said: "I think the sooner this happens the better because the town obviously needs it.

"I think it's definitely a good thing if it means the regeneration is moving ahead.

"Bracknell is a bit of a dead town at the moment. There are a lot of empty shops in the town and other than charity shops nobody wants to use them."

Some traders expressed concerns over whether the CPO would mean an increase in rent.

Michael Sibanda, owner of Michael's Hair and Beauty in Broadway, said: "I think it will be really good if this goes ahead.

"The only thing I am worried about though is whether it will have an effect on how much rent I have to pay because I already have to pay a lot and I don't think I could afford any more."

BFC leader Paul Bettison said he wanted to reassure traders that any rent rises would be considered carefully and would be in line with the increased business the regeneration would bring. He said: "If any traders have concerns, the council's doors are always open and we are happy to answer their questions.

"We are not ex-directory - we are here for people to talk to if they want to.

"We think this news is very positive for the regeneration of Bracknell and we want traders to be involved in this stage.

"We do work and regularly communicate with traders about the latest news on the regeneration and of course we want all businesses in the town to benefit."

The £750m regeneration scheme received planning permission in March 2006 and will see the town centre revamped in stages to include a new shopping centre, restaurants, new council offices and a new magistrates court.

David Gregory, development manager BRP said: "The Compulsory Purchase Order will only come into play as and when the development is ready to begin and until that time retailers will be completely unaffected.

"The CPO confirmation will not impact on rent, so it will be business as usual."

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