A community garden will be created in Woodley precinct to smarten up the town centre and help boost the local economy as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be created around the trees outside Waitrose, near the Crockhamwell Road car park, by removing the current paving slabs.
The joint project between Woodley Town Council, the Town Centre Management Initiative and Wokingham Borough Council aims to solve the problem of potential trip hazards around the four trees due to their roots dislodging paving around them.
Creating the raised community garden, which will go around the trees, removes the restrictions on the trees roots and will provide an area for the community to enjoy.
A brick retaining wall will be used following feedback from residents to the town council.
New seating will be installed in the area for visitors to the town centre, as well as a notice board in the same style as those in Woodford Park.
Pedestrians will still be able to walk on either side of this new garden to get to the shops.
Work will begin on 18 May and take around three weeks, with works being carried out by a contractor on behalf of the borough council.
Access to all shops which are open will be maintained.
The plants and vegetation to be installed in the garden has yet to be decided with current thoughts of a school community garden, a variety of grasses or even the use of moss to absorb carbon from the atmosphere or a mixture of both. Whatever is chosen will be easy to maintain.
“We are working to help kickstart our local economy during Wokingham Borough’s response to the pandemic and investing in town centres and high streets like Woodley’s is one of the ways to do this,” said Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport.
“This will also solve a historic problem with tree roots in that area of the precinct as well as creating an area for the community to enjoy for many years to come.”
Cllr Keith Baker, leader of the town council, said: “This long standing issue of trip hazards has now been addressed by a highly innovative solution.
“For Woodley residents it not only makes this area safer but it also provides a visually attractive scene including new seating areas for them to sit down and rest, meet friends or simply to eat their lunch.
“This is the third piece of the regeneration of the public space in the precinct and will enhance the area considerably.” “Woodley Town Centre Management have been concerned for some time about the uneven surface around the trees in the town centre and while we don’t want to see the trees removed, the proposed plans for the garden are a good solution to the current trip hazards,”said Brian Fennelly, Woodley Town Centre Manager.
“We are also keen to get active involvement from the local community with planting and maintenance of the garden.”