Last November, the regeneration of Aldershot town centre was approved followed by approval for redevelopment of the Nicholson’s Centre in Maidenhead four months later.
Eyes are now on Newbury where regeneration of the Kennet Centre for the new Eagle Quarter, like the Aldershot and Maidenhead schemes, another mixed-use development, has been through a reduction in scale.
In each case the developers have introduced a mix of uses which work together including independent retail, a feature people have repeatedly asked for.
Both Aldershot and Maidenhead regenerations have moved relatively quickly through the planning system as councils seem as keen as the developers to bring about attractive, lively and distinctive public spaces, supported by offices and residential.
It’s hard to imagine any other kind of town centre regeneration now. You’ve only got to look at the Orchard Centre at Didcot to see a modern, open and spacious scheme, of virtually all retail and leisure, where the most notable feature is the alarming number of empty units. And many of them have been empty for years.
Even the much-admired Lexicon at Bracknell is sporting some sizeable empty spaces despite attractive plans for its next phase. The plethora of flats coming to the town centre may help in Bracknell’s case.
Although plans for the Kennet Centre have been scaled back, the scheme will still introduce wide open spaces, independent retailers and much improved public realm, all close to the station and much different in nature to the Parkway Centre where national brands dominate.
Like Aldershot and Maidenhead, the regeneration of Newbury town centre is a mix of essential parts, all working together. Let’s hope the reduced scale finds favour.
Without a viable, mixed use development, the ailing Kennet Centre could go on ailing for many more years.
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