The Wokingham Paper

Next steps for a new library and leisure centre

New Carnival Leisure Centre and Library from Wellington Road.

WORK ON a new library and leisure centre for Wokingham has taken a step forward this week.

With refurbishment work starting on Alexandra House in the town centre, this means local company BJP Insurance Brokers Ltd are able to relocate out of their current premises, Southgate House, which will be demolished to make space for the much larger leisure centre and library.

BJP Insurance Brokers Ltd are set to relocate to Alexandra House by spring 2020 before work starts on Carnival in summer 2020.

Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration, said: “The new leisure centre and library building is set to be a landmark facility for the area but we were also determined to ensure that this valuable local business could continue to remain within the town when the redevelopment got underway. 

“Over the past few years we have worked closely with the owners to look at alternative sites which will meet their needs and help them continue to develop their business. 

“Alexandra House was the ideal solution as it puts them even closer to the heart of town and has the flexibility to tailor the interior space to their requirements.”

Barry McGoun, managing director of BJP Insurance Brokers Ltd, said: “BJP has always seen itself as being a Wokingham based company and many of our staff have relocated to be closer to the office. It was therefore a shock to us to be told that we would have to move, but I am delighted that we have eventually completed a deal with the council to purchase Alexandra House. We are looking forward to moving to our new home and hope to remain here for the foreseeable future.” 

In addition to the refurbishment of the first and second-floor offices to accommodate BJP, the works also include the reconfiguration of the former Spin bar into four smaller ground floor commercial units, and the replacement of the existing smoking shelter at the rear of the building with a new boiler house. 

Cllr Haitham Taylor continued: “Securing Alexandra House has had a double benefit for the council. Not only has it allowed us to rehome a great local business, but it also allows us to look at improving one of the main routes connecting our new development at Elms Field to the rest of the town centre, by replacing the unattractive former night club frontage with new small businesses.

“These will bring fresh life into this route and improve the feel of this area which is set to see lots more footfall. Residents have already embraced the new park, play area and Aldi Foodstore which opened in the summer and we’re expecting this to continue with new facilities like the Premier Inn hotel and Everyman Cinema open in the next few months.”

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