Bracknell Forest invested over £770 million in its regeneration; this includes the town centre and improvements across the wider area. Therefore, making it one of the largest urban regeneration schemes built in the UK.
Mobius is interested in this project because our studio is in Wokingham, just down the road from Bracknell.
In the 1990s, planning inspectors rejected initial regeneration plans. Bracknell Forest Council had to re-think its approach and work with landowners in the town to deliver the scheme. Three years after refusal, BFC approved a new town centre masterplan, and in 2003 the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership was born. It was imperative to the success of this project that a more comprehensive master plan was developed. Rather than focusing on one part of the town.
The regeneration has three phases, two of which are now complete.
1 – completed in 2011, £6m Waitrose opened on Bond Way
2 – completed in 2017, £240m Lexicon opened
3 – The council is reviewing plans for the civic quarter, market square and the southern gateway
Phase 1 – Waitrose
Bracknell was already home to Waitrose Headquarters, but the town lacked a Waitrose store. In 2011, the brand-new Waitrose store opened in Bond Way. BDP Architects were appointed to undertake the design, costing £6m. The store was designed to function as a standalone supermarket but needed to integrate into the town’s future development.
Key design features:
- An energy centre
- A living ivy wall
- Charger points for electric vehicles
- Green roofs
- Sun pipes
The design utilised timber from sustainable sources, and the building achieved a BREEAM Outstanding certification. Waitrose in Bond Way was one of 21 projects shortlisted for a RIBA South Award in 2013, recognising innovative architecture within the region.
Phase 2 – Lexicon
The Lexicon has created a new social and cultural heart for the area. Subsequently bringing a high-quality mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment within vibrant public spaces to the town centre.
The development included:
- 70 new retail and food and beverage outlets, including two 80,000 sq ft stores housing Fenwick and Marks and Spencer, and a 12-screen cinema
- 3,800 car spaces in new or upgraded car parks
- 8 core buildings and 6 place-making squares for events and activities
- £6.5 million extra investment in the highway infrastructure from Bracknell Forest
The Lexicon opened in September 2017, and during its first year, more than 16 million people visited the renewed town centre, meaning Bracknell reached 33rd in the national retail rankings, up from 255th.
Chapman Taylor was responsible for the architectural delivery. The project utilises a rich and warm palette of materials, including brick, timber, perforated aluminium, coloured glazing, gold/silver coloured copper cladding and green walls. It also features elegant yet practical street covers and canopies. Similarly to the Waitrose project, one of the key concepts behind the scheme was “the greening of Bracknell”.
The result is a modern shopping and leisure destination incorporating green landscaped spaces. The scheme is accessible and pedestrian friendly and consequently has attracted various brands, from well-known high-street brands to some higher-end brands.
Town centre awards:
The regeneration in the town centre has several awards:
- Revo Gold Awards 2017: Gold in the Re:new category and ‘Best of the Best’ in the Re:turn category
- Shortlisted for Planning Awards 2017: Regeneration category
- Thames Valley Property Awards 2018: Development of the Year
- The Pineapple Awards 2022: Winner of Activation
The first two phases have undoubtedly been a success for Bracknell and the wider area, bringing much-needed life and vibrancy to the centre of the town. The initial refusal of the plans meant that a much more coherent and comprehensive development is now in place; this should always be the approach to any urban regeneration project.
Bracknell Town Centre 2032 is the new vision which sets out the way forward for Bracknell’s town centre.
Bracknell will mainly respond to its role as an essential hub for tech industries by addressing the needs of a young, intelligent workforce.
They plan to remodel the inner town centre road structure to establish a better-connected network of sites, encouraging walking and cycling routes and creating a more legible town centre. The plan accommodates cars but in ways which anticipate the possibility of significant changes in mobility over the coming generation.
Bracknell Forest Council has submitted a bid for a share of the government’s Levelling Up Fund to assist in the regeneration of Bracknell town centre.
The redevelopment of the old Bentalls department store is the next phase of the town centre regeneration and Lexicon development. PWA (Piper Whitlock Architects) achieved planning consent for new leisure facilities centred around a new flexible public event space within the heart of the town.
The proposal would complete a figure eight retail circuit throughout the town, connecting the existing Princess Square shopping centre and the new Lexicon development. The design includes a re-design of the public realm with a new square that will become the town’s focal point. Grand civic steps and curved double-height storefronts create an inviting space with a solid link to Princess Square.
This project was due for completion in the Summer of 2022, but delays have led some frustrated locals to re-name the development “The Wreck”. The council have said that the Covid 19 pandemic and “wider macro-economic conditions”, particularly construction price inflation, have delayed the development.
It is set for completion next year, and we look forward to seeing how it will further improve the Bracknell town centre.
Following the launch of the Lexicon, Bracknell Forest Council and Countryside Properties have established a joint venture known as Bracknell Forest Cambium Partnership. BFC has control over the overall direction and objectives of the scheme while drawing on Countryside’s experience and track record for creating attractive new homes.
Market Street is this partnership’s second site to be submitted for planning. The proposal is to deliver high-quality residential apartments and commercial units, to enhance the public realm and the wider town centre area.
Market Street is a critical component of the Bracknell Town Centre vision 2032 and aims to transform Bracknell into a busy and vibrant town.
The development will be located at the former bus depot and provide 169 new homes. 25% will be affordable homes, and there will be 848 sq m of commercial space. There will be significant improvements to the public realm, including landscaping, trees, and new and improved pedestrian and cyclist routes.
The development will include solar panels, EV charging points and AAA-rated appliances in all new homes. It will have a low carbon energy usage, 297 secure bike storage spaces and provision for new cycle routes.
It is great to see even more developments on the horizon for Bracknell. While the delays are undoubtedly frustrating, we can sympathise with the economic climate hugely impacting the construction industry. We are excited to see the following stages of the urban redevelopment come to life. We will be sure to update you when this next phase is complete.