Bracknell is "ideal for investment"
Published: 23 Sep 2013 09:000 comments
Leading figures from Bracknell Forest Council and developers gave a presentation to about 175 people at the Thames Valley Property Forum last Thursday.
Victor Nicholls, assistant chief executive at the council,
told business guests at Ascot racecourse about the town – and how it will improve.
He said: “Slough and Reading are excellent but we feel Bracknell can do that as well. 85% of people say it is a great place to live, an external survey showed it is one of the best 20 places to live and there are high quality schools.
“As a place it’s fairly green with good amounts of park land and we have got a whole lot of golf courses.
“We have enjoyed growth but I think we could do a lot more. This year the council has adopted a very pro-growth business policy.”
He added the transport system is being overhauled with improvements at Bracknell rail station and £6.5m is being spent on roads in the borough. He said: “All things concluded we have a good work force, quality of life and growth. Simply, come to Bracknell.”
The town’s remodelling is being led by the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP), a 50/50 joint venture vehicle between Legal & General’s Life Fund and SEPUT (Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust).
Neil Crawford, retail manager at Legal & General, said the group hopes to change the current perception of a “very stale” town.
He said: “About 90% [of the town centre] is under our ownership so we are in a unique position to be able to develop. We’re doing it in bite-size chunks – Waitrose opened for trade [in 2011] and now the northern end is being redeveloped. It is a £200m investment with space for 50 units.”
In addition to the northern area, covering Broadway and Crossway, BRP will also redevelop Charles Square.
Mr Crawford said the response from retailers interested in taking stores in the new-look town centre had been very good and the developers hope to announce some of the firms signed up soon.
Marks and Spencer has already been named as taking an anchor store, while CineWorld will operate a new 12-screen cinema.
Mr Crawford said Bracknell is comparable to Cambridge or Tunbridge Wells and the new designs will ensure it does not appear monolithic. He said: “Each building has its own character.”
Demolition work started last week and the new shops and restaurants are expected to open in late 2015.
Mr Crawford was keen to stress at the forum that even despite the ongoing redevelopment, Bracknell was still “open for business”.
Ian Mason, head of UK property fund management at Schroders, added: “It is about having a vibrant town centre and I believe we can create something like that – it’s very exciting.”