“THIS is the start of the next exciting phase in our overall vision” — that’s the message from Bracknell Forest’s regeneration boss as more details about plans to redevelop parts of the town centre were revealed.

And these details indicate a big reduction in the number of homes the council hopes to build at Coopers Hill, Jubilee Gardens and Market Street as developers look to add 400 family-homes and flats, rather than simply 700 flats. 

The council rubber-stamped its choice of developer to go into a joint venture with last month, but few details surrounding the appointment were published following the decision. 

READ MORE: Next step in Bracknell's regeneration journey

However, alongside the new information about the homes plans, other details have come to light about the future of the three sites. 

Here’s everything we now do know — and still don’t know — about the regeneration plans.

Who are the developers?

Countryside Properties have been selected as the developers Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) will partner up with to regenerate more of the town centre.

Said to be experts in “meaningful and sustainable regeneration”, the developers have worked on “large-scale schemes for over four decades”, according to Chief Executive Mike Woolliscroft.

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He added: “We look forward to working with the council in further delivering a town centre fit for generations to come.”

READ MORE: Where the new homes could be built

July reports from The Times and CityAM indicated the housebuilders were opening up investment for £150 million in its partnerships prompted by a rising demand for affordable housing.

This cash injection will be used to speed up the delivery of their existing projects and to enter new regions.

What are the plans?

Three sites in the town centre — Market Street, Jubilee Gardens and Coopers Hill — have been earmarked for development.

Hundreds of homes could be built across these three spots, including 140 affordable new living spaces.

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Initial designs indicated around 700 homes could be built at these sites, but now developers are aiming to build 400 residential units instead. 

Partnering with Countryside Properties means bosses decided to scrap designs for some flats in favour of building more family homes instead, leading to a 42 per cent reduction in the number of units now planned from what was originally proposed. 

Councillor Marc Brunel-Walker, BFC's regeneration chief, said: “It was identified that lower density family housing may be more appropriate for the Coopers Hill site, rather than flats.

"This has therefore reduced the number of houses originally forecast at the beginning of the procurement process.

“Final housing numbers for the three sites will be developed further over the next few months."

Other additions touted include more shops, restaurants, a gym, a new health centre, office space, community space and public art.

READ MORE: Bracknell's joint venture plans explained

Councillor Brunel-Walker added: “The council has a long-held aspiration to redevelop the whole of Bracknell town centre to benefit its residents and economy.

“From the very start of our regeneration journey we planned for this to be carried out in phases, which started with The Lexicon and now this is the start of the next exciting phase in our overall vision.

“I know The Lexicon is much-loved as our borough’s social and cultural heart and I’m sure our community will welcome the redevelopment of these three additional sites."

What are the next steps and when could building work start?

According to Bracknell Forest Council, legal documents related to the joint venture are yet to be signed.

These are planned to be formalised later in the year, however.

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Following this, a planning application is likely to be submitted in early 2021.

A start date for building work is still up in the air, however, with timescales “yet to be determined”.

What will happen to users of Coopers Hill Community Centre?

Users of the community space have previously told the News of their concerns about being uprooted from their hub.

BFC says it is working with users to find alternative space for them, with one possibility being moving into Time Square — the council’s offices.

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Youth services at Coopers Hill will move into the new youth centre planned for the bottom floor of the Braccan Walk Car Park, due to open in October 2020.

Bracknell and Wokingham College Nursery will remain at Coopers Hill until July 2021.

How much is the council contributing to the project?

The Joint Venture is a 50:50 partnership with Countryside Properties worth £124 million, according to Estates Gazette

As mentioned before, BFC is offering the three town centre sites as part of its contribution to the project.

Budget documents for the 2020/2021 financial year published at the end of 2019 indicated the council would also contribute millions in cash to the project.

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According to these documents, the financial contribution could be more than £5 million, but the council would not comment when asked exactly how much it was putting towards the scheme.

The level of Countryside’s investment is also unclear.

However, a business plan outlining BFC's funding — proposed to be borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board — to support the joint venture will be presented to the council later this year.