THE redevelopment of Elms Field is set to take a major step forward later this month as the council officially hands over the site to contractors.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) announced on Monday that the site, which will eventually be home to a supermarket, hotel and a boutique cinema, will be officially handed over to contractors McLaughlin & Harvey on Monday, March 19.

The felling of trees on the site last month caused uproar among local residents, but more upheaval is due with the closure of the play area and the Paddocks car park.

As part of the handover to the contractors, the council will fence off the remaining open spaces, including the play area, and the Wellington House car parks from March 19 so the construction work can go ahead.

The Paddocks car park will also be closed from midnight on Saturday, March 24. A pedestrian route will be maintained through the Paddocks area while the works are carried out to ensure easy access to Shute End from Elms Road.

Motorists with season tickets and permit holders are advised to contact the council's car parks team to discuss refunds or alternative locations for parking.

Blue badge holders are advised to seek alternative parking at one of the council's other car parks.

Cllr Stuart Munro, WBC's executive member for business and economic development and regeneration, said: “Starting on site at Elms Field is a real landmark for Wokingham’s future as we move forward with creating great facilities across the town centre. I’d like to thank residents for their patience whilst we’ve been carrying out the preparation works and hope they continue to support us over the coming months.

"Our contractor, McLaughlin & Harvey, has worked hard to minimise the impact of these initial works and will continue to do this during the wider development. We’re liaising closely with the team carrying out the Market Place works to ensure work is co-ordinated carefully.

“We opened the brand new Carnival multi-storey car park last June to ensure there was plenty of replacement parking spaces available for when the Paddocks and Wellington House car parks closed. There’s more than 1,400 spaces within the town centre and people can find out more on our website where we have created a handy sheet showing the different locations and other useful information.

“People can also find out more about alternative play area and park locations by using the ‘Find My Nearest‘ search tool on the council’s website. There are some fantastic parks within just a few minutes walk of Elms Field, such as Howard Palmer Park which is a wonderful place to relax in, or Langborough Recreation ground with its playground.”

Paul McLaughlin, operations director from McLaughlin & Harvey, said: “McLaughlin & Harvey is delighted to be awarded this prestigious project and look forward to working with Wokingham Borough Council, their stakeholders and the local community towards a successful scheme delivery.”

Work at Elms Field is due to be completed in phases from the end of 2019 through to 2020. The new park, play area and reconfigured Paddocks car park will reopen when the work completes in 2020.