Plans for new centre on course

Published: 15 Jan 2009 16:000 comments

PLANS for a long-awaited town centre regeneration are still on course despite the economic downturn.

Chains such as Adams and Woolworths have disappeared from the High Street and after Marks & Spencer revealed the Bracknell branch is at risk, some shoppers feared for the town's future.

But Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP) says it remains committed to the £750m scheme and is doing everything possible to help retailers through the credit crunch.

Helen Barnett, marketing manager at BRP said: "People shouldn't forget that it is a lengthy process but we're in a unique position because we own most of the town centre and we would just ask everyone to bear with us."

Regeneration plans include 56,000 sq m of new retail space, 15,000 sq m of new bars, eateries and leisure facilities, plus a new bus station, police station and magistrates court.

Ms Barnett said: "What we don't want to do is push hard, work quickly and end up getting it wrong. We have to get it right because we need a town centre for 21st century Bracknell."

In the meantime BRP wants Bracknell to remain a vibrant town and although some shops are disappearing, many national chains, independent retailers and new businesses want to take their place.

Ms Barnett said: "We are talking to a lot of retailers and we have had a lot of interest in the town since Christmas. We want to look at the retail mix because we have standards we want to maintain so we can enable all our retailers to get what they need."

BRP owns around 80% of buildings in the town centre and says that as a landlord works hard to help troubled businesses.

Ms Barnett said: "We work with any retailers that are struggling and if the worst comes to the worst, we help relocate their staff. We have been trying to help staff from Woolworths and Adams find new jobs in Bracknell.

"We work in the town, we see our retailers on a day-to-day basis and we do care. It's very important that we try and help the retailers. We have an open door policy so they can always come to us."

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