PLANS to change the layout of the Wokingham town centre have been announced, following the news that shops will be reopening (with social distancing) over this weekend.

Councillors for the Wokingham borough announced their plans on Friday, June 26, on how the town centre will be organised so residents can shop safely when stores reopen on July 4.

Although the council has also been working to ensure the town centres in Woodley and Twyford, it was agreed that no more special measures implemented by the council would be needed.

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Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport, said: “It’s been lovely seeing people come back into our centres, and feedback from local businesses across the borough has been very positive.

"Residents really want to support our local traders and it’s important that we create the safe spaces they need to do so.

"Our ongoing discussions with Woodley and Twyford don’t show a need for changes to the roads or footways yet but we are continuing to work with them closely to keep this under review.

"In Wokingham town centre we have already started making changes to the layout in response to feedback from residents and businesses and will be introducing new measures as well.

“In addition to some changes on Peach Street, and along Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road we are also going to be trialling a temporary closure of Denmark Street on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July.

"This will allow us to create more space for pedestrians and hopefully allow some of the restaurants and cafes to benefit from outdoor seating whilst restrictions on indoor seating remain.

"We’re just finalising discussions around this and expect to share more information soon."

Changes announced to be set in place by the weekend include narrowing Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road to a single lane of traffic to more walking space for residents, changing the Wiltshire Road, Peach Street, London Road junction to a filter junction rather than signalised junction to speed up the flow of traffic, creating a delivery bay outside the parade of shops at the northern end of Peach Street to support the businesses in this location who are struggling to get deliveries to their rear access, and trialling a closure of Denmark Street on Fridays and Saturdays from its junction with Market Place to the car park entrance, beginning on July 3 and 4.

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Cllr Jorgensen continued: “When it comes to implementing such a major package of support changes it’s inevitable that not everything will work perfectly first time, or that it will make every resident or business owner happy.

"We continue to review our plans, listen to feedback and make sure they work as best as they can, especially as we adapt to changing government restrictions as lockdown relaxes.

"There are also some cases where we can’t make changes as the impact on safety or the wider network is too high.

"Whilst we know some residents are keen to see the short stay bays reinstated at the northern end of Peach Street we’ve continued to review it and it simply isn’t practical as we can’t support traffic reversing out onto a single lane of a busy road, or blocking all traffic whilst they wait for a space."

For more information on the changes and parking in the town centre, click here.