Wokingham town centre's regeneration cost the council more than £117m.

Conservative councillor Philip Mirfin, executive member for regeneration, told the News that the latest figures released to the public included costings for the regenerated corner of Rose Street, Broad Street, Peach Place and the multi-storey car park, but not Market Place.

However, Liberal Democrats councillor Prue Bray claimed the disclosure of these costs was “all smoke and mirrors”.

Ahead of a meeting next week, where the figures are set to be discussed, she told the News: “We will try and get as much information out as we can.

“It is better than nothing, but it is like getting blood out of a stone.”

A report also highlighted that in addition to the £117.6m cost, the council will have to pay another £17.5m in interest up to 2025.

The figures show the council will be left with a “completed scheme debt” of £49m, which could lead to almost £100m of assets being sold on the open market “as an investment.”

Cllr Mirfin told the News that the regeneration costs were “better than the expectation”.

He added: “We have had a good plan which has helped us to manage the solution. There has been some borrowing… but it is a very exciting time.”

A 2018 report outlined that the council was set to borrow £270m in order to fund its building projects.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) expects to see a further £2.8m come in annually from rent in the coming years but the report notes that the authority has had to offer ‘set up incentives’ to incoming businesses, such as rent-free periods, in order to help them ‘establish an initial customer base’.

The report read: “This cost includes delivering everything from the new commercial elements such as the shops, cinema, hotel and residential properties; to the non-commercial elements such as the play area, park improvements, new road and leisure centre.

“As this programme is being run as a commercial development the residential elements are then sold with the income being used to offset the costs of delivery.”

Reports from 2010 indicated that the regeneration of Peach Place and Elms Field was expected to cost around £100m at the start of the project.

And the WBC document outlined how the economic model used for the regeneration could be used again in the future.

It continued: “Considering Wokingham’s rapidly decreasing funding from central government, projects like the regeneration that will secure avenues of additional, non-tax payer or central government dependent, income for the council are increasingly critical.

“It is hoped that the commercially viable model used for the town centre regeneration can be rolled out elsewhere within the borough to further support income generation and help fund services.”

Last month the News reported that councillors demanded to know the costs of the regeneration project once works had been completed.

These figures are set to be discussed by the council’s community and corporate overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday, January 14.