Sunday, 30 November 2014

Save Elms Field: Peach Place and parking

Today we're posting a letter from Cllr Prue Bray addressed to "Save Elms Field" supporters, where she gives an update on plans to develop Wokingham's Town Centre and develop Elms Field - the only significant green space remaining in the centre of Wokingham:

Peach Place and parking

A  quick letter about 3 things:  Peach Place, parking in Wokingham town centre, and what happened to our council motion on consulting on the regeneration

1 Peach Place
There are still two more chances to see the exhibition of the Council's revised plans for Peach Place before they are submitted as a planning application. 
The plans are on show in the Market Place and Town Hall Committee Room on
  • Friday 28th November 9 am to 3 pm
  • Saturday 29th November 10 am to 3 pm
We think the plans are a lot better than last year's scheme BUT we still have a major concern over the loss of the Rose Street car park.   We would also prefer a memorial garden in Rose Street between the shops and the church, where the Council is proposing to put town houses.   But go along and have a look!

2  Parking in Wokingham town centre
A year ago the Council produced a draft car park strategy for the town centre.  It based its figures on car parking requirements on a couple of days of surveying car park usage in April 2013.   I got together a team of resident volunteers (thanks - you were brlliiant!) and we counted cars ourselves for a week in 2014.  Our figures for car park usage were very different to the Council's - even on how many parking spaces there are in some of the car parks.,  
We have been waiting nearly a year for the car park strategy to come back after the consultation.  We have news now that it will be looked at in the New Year.  Before it goes to the Executive to be signed off, one of the Council's Overview & Scrutiny committees will be looking at January.  We will be providing the evidence we gathered last year to that committee.  Hopefully they will agree that it would be better for the Council to base their car park strategy on accurate information and not on the rather dubious figures in the draft version.
My own view is that it would be better to have a proper view of car parking requirements in the town BEFORE deciding to get rid of the Rose Street car park.  
I said as much at last week's Council meeting.  I think I did get a hint that the Council would look at speaking to car park users to find out why they park where they do.  I find it shocking that they could have got this far with a strategy without speaking to any car park users.

3 Council motion
The last email I sent out was about the motion I had submitted for the Council meeting last week, which was mainly about the need to consult the public, not just on Peach Place but on Elms Field when that comes back.
So what happened?
Nothing.  The Conservatives voted to go home before any of the Lib Dem motions got debated.

The town centre did come up in the meeting.  Philip Mirfin made a statememt suggesting that the Lib Dems weren't interested in the town centre (bizarre - especially as we had put in a motion on it!).  But he also seemed to suggest that the Council would be consulting on Elms Field in the Spring.  So maybe the motion had the desired effect without actually having to debate it.....

Elms Field is still there.   And without our campaign, it might already have begun to disappear under concrete..

Best Wishes, and thanks for all your support so far

Prue Bray