Regeneration is an award winner for Wokingham Borough Council

Peach Place. Picture: Stewart Turkington

THERE’S cause for celebration in Wokingham town after the borough council’s regeneration programme was recognised at a national awards ceremony.

It won the Best Housing, Regeneration or New Build Initiative Award at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards on Wednesday, December 16.

The annual awards aim to recognise government frontline services across the UK, and highlight projects which have improved local areas and helped communities.

The Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration project is a multi-million pound programme intended to support the high street, create new public spaces, develop an improved choice of leisure and shopping facilities, and create new homes.

The first two phases of the project at Peach Place and Elms Field are now complete, and work is continuing on the final phase which will create a new leisure centre and library hub.

These will be on the site of the former Carnival Pool.

Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration, says she was pleased to see Wokingham Borough Council win.

“The APSE Service Awards are one of the most coveted accolades given in the public sector, so to find out the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration had won the 2020 award was fantastic news,” she said.

“Since the regeneration started, Wokingham has continued to welcome new businesses and residents have embraced new public spaces.”

Cllr Haitham Taylor says the level of competition was “incredibly high” at this year’s ceremony, and believes the award reflects how the regeneration project was designed “with the community at its heart”.

She says work at Carnival Pool is progressing quickly too, and is a “landmark project” for Wokingham.

“When it opens next year, the Carnival hub is going to become a real focal point for the community,” the councillor added.

“Despite covid, there remains a real buzz around the town, and we very much hope to see this grow in the next year as we emerge from the current lockdown.

“We are looking forward to returning to normal.”

Announcing the winners at this year’s awards ceremony, Paul O’Brien, APSE chief executive, said after “a year of such turmoil” every winner deserved recognition for their frontline work.

Mark Pengelly, APSE national chair, added: “The health pandemic has demonstrated that local council frontline services are the fourth emergency service, supporting people of all ages.

“Today is their day. Congratulations to you all.”

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