Hopes that The Deck could be opened up for temporary food stalls or entertainment have been crushed after its private landowners said they can’t afford it.

Bracknell Forest Council hoped that the empty patch of land on High Street in Bracknell's town centre could be opened up for temporary uses, after plans to redevelop it fell through last year.

But its private landowner – the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP) – has said the cost of making the land safe for temporary uses would be too high.

A spokesperson for Bracknell Regeneration Partnership told the News: “Unfortunately, following detailed surveys of the former Bentalls site, the cost to convert this space and make it safe and accessible for a temporary use has proved commercially unviable.”

READ MORE: The Deck - a timeline from start to finish

Paul Bidwell – the councillor responsible for Bracknell’s regeneration – said the council had tried to help the landowner open up The Deck for temporary uses.

He said he knew that people were disappointed when plans to turn the space into a square for restaurants and bars fell through. But he stressed that as the council does not own the land, it can’t make decisions on the site’s future.

He told the News: “Last year we acknowledged the announcement by BRP not to take The Deck forward was disappointing for residents. Since then, we have offered both financial support and advice to BRP in the hope of bringing about a temporary events and activity space on the site.

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to find a viable solution for a temporary space. The council is unable to have any further say in the matter as we do not own the land.”

Bracknell Regeneration Partnership and the council have both said they plan to invest money into events and activities in the town centre over the coming year.

They also say they are still looking into a permanent solution for what to do with the land. But the landowner says it is ‘still very early days for a major rethink’ and that ‘it could take some time to get the site fully regenerated'.

Proposals to demolish and replace the fondly-remembered Bentalls department store were part of a vision for Bracknell town centre’s transformation.

They involved replacing the building with a square for restaurants and bars – known as The Deck – and demolition took place in 2021.

But the scheme faced delays relating to the coronavirus pandemic and soaring construction costs. Bracknell Regeneration Partnership eventually announced in October last year that it had abandoned the plans and would have to come up with a new scheme.

Bracknell Forest Council still said it hoped temporary uses for the site could be found as recently as March this year. But a three-monthly report on council activities published last week now says work on The Deck is ‘on hold’ while a ‘viability review’ is carried out.