THE TEAM behind the regeneration of the town centre look to be taking inspiration from The Lexicon development as questions are asked of their progress.

Wokingham town is currently in the middle of a mass regeneration work, which has turned the roads into somewhat of a building site, with residents complaining about the apparent lack of progress.

At a council meeting on Tuesday November 24, one councillor suggested that the redevelopment of Elm Field be cancelled altogether.

Peter Humphries asked Councillor Stuart Munro: “When the new shopping centres opened recently in Bracknell and Oxford approximately 25% of the units were vacant.

“To date only one retail unit has been pre-let in both Peach Place and Elms Field. What can be perceived as lack of confidence in the Elms Field development has been demonstrated by Wetherspoons, a business one would assume to be in a position to benefit due to its location at the gateway to that scheme approaching from the town centre, announcing it is closing next year.

"Taking all these factors into consideration when will the council be announcing that the Elms Field scheme is being abandoned and that £80 million is not going to be gambled on a white elephant?”

Cllr Munro said in response: “At the point of a start on site in Bracknell only Fenwick’s, M&S and H&M were exchanged together with the Cinema and a number of restaurants. M&S opened early on 27th July with the official opening on 7th September and as today they are at 95% let.

“Bracknell and Oxford highlight that only larger format operators are willing to commit to pre-lets 12 months and more, in advance of opening. Occupiers, increasingly only commit to pre-lets at the earliest 9 months prior to opening, as demonstrated in the leasing programme for both Bracknell and Oxford. The Council is targeting a blend of smaller format high end retailers and local operators for Peach Place.

“Positive negotiations are ongoing with a number of retailers and the Council is encouraged by the levels of interest. It is recognised that the target occupiers will only commit closer to opening and the council remain committed to this strategy as we believe that quality and type of retail will be critical to creating the right town centre for Wokingham.”