ROADS in Wokingham’s town centre will be reduced to single lanes to help pedestrians shop safely from next week.
Under plans from the borough council, work starts this evening to convert Peach Street, Rectory Road and Wiltshire Road, and there will also be wider pavements along Broad Street and Rose Street.
The council hopes to retain on-street parking, but spaces along Peach Street will be reduced.
The work will be completed by Monday morning, ready for the town centre’s non-essential shops to reopen after being mothballed during the coronavirus lockdown.
Other changes in Wokingham town centre include a new 20mph speed limit and changes to existing signalised crossings which will now be activated by sensors so people waiting to cross no longer need to push the button for them to change.
And there will be additional pedestrian crossings across the town centre.
In a statement, Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “While we know some of the changes may seem strange at first, we know from our discussions with residents and businesses that creating safe spaces is incredibly important to everyone.
“All the changes being made are temporary, and we will continue to monitor them over the coming months and adapt them as required.”
For the lane closures, she said: “Initially we will be realigning the roads in Wokingham town centre, reducing Peach Street, Rectory Road and Wiltshire Road down to one lane and creating wider pedestrian footways along Broad Street and Rose Street.
“A new 20mph speed limit will also be in place in the town centre.
“This will enable us to give people in the town centre the safe space they need to access the town, circulate and queue near shops.
“We will be retaining as much on-street parking as possible in the town centre but, in some locations such as along Peach Street, this will not be possible except for loading and unloading and for blue badge holders.”
And there will be more changes to come in time for the school holidays.
Cllr Jorgensen continued: “In the next phase we will be rolling out further changes along roads and footways such as Denmark Street in Wokingham town centre. Further works to Wokingham town centre are expected to start at the end of July, in time for the summer holiday period
“We are not currently proposing changes to the roads or footways in Woodley or Twyford at this time but are continuing to work closely with them to monitor the shopping areas and will take action if required. We will continue to keep residents updated if there are any changes.
“But it’s not just about our main retail areas as we want to make sure our shops and businesses are supported across the borough.
“Many of the ideas and improvements agreed for Wokingham town centre, Woodley and Twyford are applicable to all our retail businesses and we’re keen to work with them to offer support where we can.”