Bracknell Town Center Regeneration: New Town

Renewal of Bracknell town center in Berkshire, Henley Business School research, development of new English architecture

July 24, 2022

Location: Bracknell, Berkshire, southern England, United Kingdom

Eagle House, Bracknell Town Centre:

photo: Eagle House, Bracknell by Stephen Richards, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bracknell Town Center Regeneration News

It’s been 75 years since the New Town legislation was introduced, below we share new research from experts at Henley Business School looking at the regeneration of Bracknell town centre:

A new reflective study by new town specialists at Henley Business School offers insight into Bracknell town centre, as those most closely involved in its redevelopment reflect on what was needed to achieve award-winning success.

The research provides a toolkit of ideas for developers and civic leaders, examining valuable behaviors and management ideas for those leading a large-scale development project.

Titled “The Lexicon – Understanding Success in Major Town Center Regeneration,” the report shows that Bracknell’s redevelopment tackled a town center characterized by a modern, old-fashioned “new town” architectural style with a deteriorating physical fabric; by unsuitable businesses, and a conviction of the local community that the city center should be transformed into a new social and cultural heart for the borough.

The research offers expert advice for those looking to embark on inner-city regeneration, including those in older new towns. Here are some key thoughts:

  1. Abandonment of retail

Town centers are becoming more and more community hubs, pushing the retail balance even further away. Space should be created for cultural activities such as street art and traveling exhibitions. Large retail outlets in large units shouldn’t be the main street’s only focus. Consider varying unit sizes and types to create space for small retailers and independent retailers. Libraries, police stations and community health centers serve the towns’ community function and have been described by research as contributing to the success of the local economy, although they are absent from Bracknell’s redevelopment.

Charles Square, Bracknell Town Centre:
Charles Square, Bracknell Town Center
photo: Charles Square, Bracknell by Stephen Richards, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When thinking of retail, large retail outlets in large units shouldn’t be the only focus on the high street. Consider varying unit sizes and types to create space for small retailers and independent retailers

  1. Have a strong project vision

For any regeneration project, it is essential to have a strong and clear vision, understood and owned by the main actors involved from the start. Projects should involve the local community in the process and understand how development proposals relate to the social fabric of the area.

It is important to find a balance between respecting the initial vision of the project – creating coherence for the people involved – and the need to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the community.

  1. Teamwork and communication

Try to foster a sense of ‘goodwill’ about a regeneration project. Building connections and fostering strong team relationships focused on achieving a common goal – from business stakeholders to partner teams – is critical to success. Regular team meetings, fostering the right mix of technical and project management skills, and spending time promoting communications and working together help achieve this. Essentially, to avoid a pressure cooker situation, decision makers need to be realistic about how long projects can take.

The involvement of local residents and businesses is vital; ultimately it is those affected by regeneration and those who need to feel ownership. It is especially important to be transparent and honest about deadlines and their impact on the wider community.

  1. Think about transport links

Make good use of the local authority’s internal transport team – they can provide a detailed history and understanding of the local context. Large regeneration projects are larger and more complex than many private sector development projects on private land; local knowledge can help save time and money for regeneration developers. An engaged local community transport team brings solutions – rather than obstacles – to development.

Dr Emma Street, Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Governance at Henley Business School, said:

“While new towns face many regeneration challenges, they also offer opportunities to create places that serve communities, ensuring that the values ​​at the heart of the new towns original program endure for decades to come.

Downtown regeneration is currently at a crossroads. Our research highlights the challenges faced by those seeking to regenerate, but also the opportunities that exist to create future-ready city centres.

Victor Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Development and Planning at Henley Business School, said:

“We have been fortunate to be able to learn valuable lessons from such a wide range of participants and stakeholders involved in the delivery and operation of one of the largest and most successful inner city regeneration programs. UK resorts in recent years.

Perhaps one of the most useful points to emerge from our research is the importance of examining the myriad aspects of complex regeneration projects, from the perspective of the professionals engaged in the program”.

Previously on e-architect

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