DENMARK STREET is to be pedestrianised to help shoppers get around Wokingham town centre and help pop-up pavement cafes to launch.
It’s one of a number of measures that are being made to Wokingham’s town centre in response to changing guidelines over the coronavirus pandemic.
And this weekend, Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road will be narrowed to become one lane of traffic.
Wokingham Borough Council says that the changes will allow on-street parking on Rectory Road, and make it easier for pedestrians.
Work is due to start from 8pm on Saturday, June 27 for Wiltshire Road and from 4pm on Sunday for Rectory Road.
The merging of London Road and Wiltshire Road to become Peach Street will no longer have traffic lights, to speed up the flow of traffic.
In a move that will help pizza delivery firms and Wokingahm Decor, a delivery bay will be created outside the parade of shops at the northern end of Peach Street.
And in the biggest change, there will be a trial run of pedestrianising Denmark Street on Fridays and Saturdays.
This will cover between Market Place and the entrance to the car park by the library.
This trial run will take place on Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4.
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development on Wokingham Borough Council, said “People are already adapting to the requirements such as queuing safely and sanitising their hands in shops, and we’ve been pleased to see so many businesses taking up the offer of the support packs with posters and floor stickers to encourage safe shopping.
“We’ve also had positive feedback from shoppers about the social distancing ambassadors in the town centres. They provide a friendly face and reassure our residents that it’s safe to come back to our high streets.”
He also urged hospitality businesses to get behind a survey looking at how the council can aid it when they reopen from Saturday, July 4.
The Public Protection Partnership for Wokingham Borough is also holding a webinar on Tuesday 30 June from 10 to 11am to help the hospitality sector get ready to re-open. For businesses that would like to attend, email email@example.com with ‘webinar’ in the subject line and include the name of the business and contact details.
“Following on from the success of our original business questionnaire we have launched a new survey targeted directly at businesses in the hospitality sector as we know their needs will be very different from other shops and businesses,” he said.
“We’d encourage businesses to complete it as it will help us give them the support they need to reopen from July 4.”
The hospitality reopening survey can be accessed at – https://cutt.ly/3ifa91C
And Wokingham Borough Council pledged to continue to adapt the plans as a result of feedback and changes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The council is continuing to monitor the changes and work with residents and business owners alike to make sure the changes make our town centres as safe as possible.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport at the council, said: “It’s been lovely seeing people come back into our centres, and feedback from local businesses across the borough has been very positive. Residents really want to support our local traders and it’s important that we create the safe spaces they need to do so.”
She said that Woodley and Twyford would stay as they are, but are being closely monitored.
But, she added: “In Wokingham town centre we have already started making changes to the layout in response to feedback from residents and businesses and will be introducing new measures as well.
“In addition to some changes on Peach Street, and along Wiltshire Road and Rectory Road, we are also going to be trialling a temporary closure of Denmark Street on Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4.
“This will allow us to create more space for pedestrians and hopefully allow some of the restaurants and cafes to benefit from outdoor seating while restrictions on indoor seating remain.
“We’re just finalising discussions around this and expect to share more information soon.”
Cllr Jorgensen continued: “When it comes to implementing such a major package of support changes it’s inevitable that not everything will work perfectly first time, or that it will make every resident or business owner happy. We continue to review our plans, listen to feedback and make sure they work as best as they can, especially as we adapt to changing government restrictions as lockdown relaxes.
“There are also some cases where we can’t make changes as the impact on safety or the wider network is too high. Whilst we know some residents are keen to see the short-stay bays reinstated at the northern end of Peach Street we’ve continued to review it and it simply isn’t practical as we can’t support traffic reversing out onto a single lane of a busy road, or blocking all traffic whilst they wait for a space.”