Shoppers in Wokingham have been warned of yet another delay to the town centre regeneration which is delaying the completion of the refurbished Market Place.
Originally, the work had been scheduled for a March 2018 completion date, but that was pushed back to the end of July given.
However, Wokingham Borough Council has now announced the work won’t be finished until ‘mid to late August.’
That’s because council contractors have discovered significant problems with pipe works, old carriageways and pavement lines, all of which had to be dealt with before the workers could lay the new paving.
The Market Place works form a key part of the regeneration of Wokingham town centre, which involves transforming Market Place into an attractive space with café tables, market stalls, trees and stylish paving.
The council now expects the whole regeneration project to be complete on the weekend of Saturday, August 18.
It has also announced it will engage in a review of the project to find out what went wrong.
Councillor Philip Mirfin, executive member for town centre regeneration on the council said: “We are truly sorry for the overrun and understand and share the frustrations of residents and businesses.
“We always aim to be a learning organisation and that is why I have called for a review of this project.
“But we have always maintained that this project must be of high quality and so we will not cut corners to save time at this stage.
“There are more and more areas of Market Place emerging and it does look tremendous.
“Between now and the August end date, people will see more and more of the town centre opened up and I hope people will be able to come and enjoy the new appearance before the final end date.”
This has not been the first delay the regeneration project has faced.
Back in January, the opening of Broad Street had to be delayed so that an “underground spaghetti junction” of “poorly laid pipework” could be removed.
Broad Street was eventually reopened six weeks behind schedule on Friday, March 23.
The whole regeneration project includes Market Place, Peach Place, Elms Field and ancillary roadworks in Denmark Street.
Once built, it will serve as a mix of residential space and a shopping destination.
The council has announced that ‘key workers’ such as police officers, nurses and firefighters will be able to buy homes in Peach Place for less than the market rate.
Over in Elms Field, the ground itself is being flattened by contractors so construction work can start on the site.
When completed, the field will be re-imagined as an enhanced leisure area, which will include new homes, a hotel, a boutique cinema, and a supermarket.
In Denmark Street, the council is hoping the section of the street from Langborough Road to the Carnival roundabout can reopen on Friday, July 27, so the restrictions on Langborough Road can be lifted.
However, this depends on whether Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE) can complete its work at the bottom of Denmark Street.
The council maintains the regeneration of Market Place is worth the effort, with new York stone paving replacing the current “poor quality” paving, cluttered street scene and inconvenient bus lane.
Cllr Mirfin said: “This work is part of a vision for Wokingham town that will, in the long-term, bring more people in to the centre to enjoy its shops, cafes, events and other activities.
“We stand by this vision and know it is the right thing for the town’s future.
“But we also know that, for many people, it is the here and now that is difficult and we can only ask for patience until the work is complete.”