Popular Fair will survive Elms Field revamp in Wokingham
Published: 13 May 2013 13:300 comments
ORGANISERS of the popular Wokingham May Fayre say they will "work around" the redevelopment of Elms Field - but warned it may affect the success of the Bank Holiday spectacular in future.
Some residents voiced their concerns over the future of the event - which attracted about 25,000 people to the town centre on Monday - because a new food store and housing are set to be built on parts of the park.
Candy Kirkland, from the Wokingham Lions, which organises the annual event, said: "We have been assured that there will be an area for us to hold the May Fayre but at the moment we don't know how much space.
"It's a really great space at the moment and from a personal point of view I think it's a real shame. The difficulty will be how to connect that area with the rest of the fair. It's a concern and we don't know if it will be the same size.
"The whole point of having the fair is it's in the centre of town. We will find a way round it and hopefully it will be okay, but if it became too difficult we'd have to look at our options."
She added she was "very, very happy" with Monday's event, which saw Elms Field, Denmark Street and the Market Place packed with residents and visitors. Some visitors said the redevelopment of Elms Field - with a planning application due later this year - will harm the town's ability to hold such events in future.
Grandmother Sue Gook, who lives in the town centre, said: "It's such a pity we're going to lose this space [Elms Field]. You can see how people are having such a lovely time here - it's so important to the community and losing it would be such a shame. We're just so pleased to have it."
Sandy Lane resident Randy Cox agreed and said: "You can't get rid of the space, can you, really? The residents need this area."
The redevelopment of Elms Field is due to be completed in 2015 and will contain an events field, a new play area, seating and areas surrounded by trees for people to relax.
The events area will be levelled out and provide water and power points.
Cllr Alistair Corrie, executive member for regeneration at Wokingham Borough Council, said the redesigned area would help create a better setting to hold the May Fair and other major events, which include the Wokingham Festival and open air cinema.
He said: "What we're going to be left with is more than two football pitches worth of space which will cater to all events.
"People will be able to use that space all year round and not just in daylight hours.
"It's always difficult when you're talking about green space but we're working hard and we will end up with something really pretty and well used."