Wilson Bowden and Wokingham Borough Council brought forward proposals for the regeneration of the historic market town of Wokingham. The proposals entailed the demolition and rebuild of parts of the existing town centre and the development of new retail and residential on some existing open space.
Wokingham is an affluent borough with a highly active and vocal population. The plans had been in the public domain for a long period of time as the Council progressed with the Core Strategy and a number of consultations on the proposals.
The focus of the plans is to bring greater footfall and spend into Wokingham Town Centre, to improve some of the more run down areas and to contribute to the local housing need. In light of these aims, the activity undertaken was necessarily community and stakeholder focused, to insure that the plans were framed around robust consultation with the local community and stakeholders.
The engagement programme was conducted in a necessarily highly public and visible arena. The core activity consisted of stakeholder meetings and public exhibitions, however this was also supplemented with significant local media coverage, use of social media, and the development of a specific regeneration-focused Steering Group.
Due to the nature of the town and the local area, as well as the plans themselves, there were a series of significant issues which needed to be addressed in terms of public perception. These were ongoing through the planning process.
Detailed records were kept of all forms of engagement and the feedback was used to amend and adapt the strategy and the development plans.
After a lengthy period of consultation and responses to local stakeholders, the plans were approved. The project was also a finalist for a Planning Award 2016 for Planning Permission of the Year.