VOICE OF WOKINGHAM: Playing the regeneration game

The sign on the former Marks & Spencer store in Wokingham's Peach Street

NEWS that the former Marks & Spencer store is to be redeveloped will dismay some readers.

Many of us miss the chance to get our smalls and coats from the Peach Street store, which left for the bright lights of Bracknell in 2017.

Some had hoped it could have been converted into a Marks & Spencer Food Hall, while others had expressed a desire for an indoor market.

We now know what Wokingham Borough Council – who own the site – are intending to do.

It is to become a gym at the back, with two retail units at the front, with office space above.

Like much of Wokingham town centre’s regeneration, it’s a case of watch this space. The pandemic has put much of our lives on hold this year, and the retail scene has been part of that.

For example, many of us will not have visited our new Starbucks yet, not because they don’t want to, but to avoid unnecessary journeys.

The council has to balance all of this and ensure it is getting a return for its – our – investment. For example, the new gym is a pre-let – the council has a preferred operator – that is good news.

At first glance, the plan might seem disappointing, but for now we need to hold tight and see what develops. The regeneration will be worth it.

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