Berkshire’s popular commuter borough
Bracknell Forest has an excellent and frequent rail service. As a result, it’s now a major commuter centre with its residents travelling in both directions, westwards to Reading and eastwards to London.
Bracknell lies 11 miles to the south-east of Reading, 10 miles south-west of Windsor and 30 miles west of central London. Its perfect placement means it’s a very popular residence for the commuter population.
The borough of Bracknell Forest had a population of 113,205 in the 2011 census and the average age was 37.4 years old. It has a higher than average proportion of managers, directors, senior officials and professional occupations, and a lower than average proportion of elementary occupations, machine operators and skilled trades. This means there is a ready supply of professional people looking for quality houses to rent in the area.
Property prices in Bracknell Forest are a little under the average for nearby West Berkshire by 0.29%. They’ve seen an increase of 5% over the last year and 18% since 2013. Large scale housing construction is currently underway and with an above average percentage of owner-occupiers in the area, there’s ample opportunity to negotiate a good price from developers and supply the buy-to-let demand.
£200 million of regeneration is underway in Bracknell. This includes town centre pedestrianisation, the construction of a ring road to aid traffic flow, the segregation of industrial areas from residential areas and new leisure & entertainment facilities. These improvements are due for completion in 2016 so investors should get in quick before the regeneration takes effect and house prices rise sharply.
The manufacturing industry has largely disappeared since the 1980s and the area has reinvented itself to accommodate modern business demands. Former significant sites included Clifford’s Dairy in Downshire Way and British Aerospace, this site is now occupied by Arlington Square, a 22-acre business park.
The award-winning environment has great access to the town centre, major motorways, London Heathrow Airport and Waterloo train station. This access is exactly why employers are relocating from London to the cheaper environs of Bracknell & the Thames Valley.
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Economy & Employment
A £200 million town centre regeneration project is underway.
Bracknell’s Southern Industrial Area houses the head office of Waitrose. The 70-acre site also houses the company’s central distribution centre. Waitrose has operated from the town since the 1970s providing jobs and adding to the area’s prosperity.
The town is also now home to many major electronics and IT companies such as Fujitsu (who have recently expanded and created another 600 jobs at their site in Lovelace Road.
Panasonic, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Brocade Communications Systems, Siemens, Riverbed, Honeywell, Cable and Wireless, Intercall, Broadcom, Avnet Technology Solutions, Novell and WorkForce Software.
Heathrow Airport is a mere 13 miles from Bracknell, it is one of the largest employment sites in the UK with over 76,600 people working within the Airport boundary. It also supports a further 60,000 indirectly through the Greater London and surrounding area and around another 70,000 indirectly nationwide.
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Waitrose’s UK headquarters and distribution centre are based in Bracknell.
Because of Bracknell’s age, it was decided that it should undergo renovation. Designs and plans were couched and rejected the first time around. The council went for a second attempt and plans were accepted, work was due to commence early in 2008 but due to the global credit crises plans were postponed. The regeneration finally got underway early in 2015.
The major refurbishment of the town centre is now taking place with The Borough Council working in partnership with the Bracknell Regeneration Limited Partnership, to regenerate the town centre.
At the end of 2014 works began to clear the town centre ready for the construction of new shops, restaurants and a Cineworld cinema, and improve the access and feel of the town. Construction began in April 2015 and is expected to be completed by Spring 2017.
Wagamama will locate in the new town alongside a new 80,000 sq ft Fenwick store, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Waitrose & H&M. Cineworld will also open a 12-screen cinema complex. Restaurants Carluccio’s, Zizzi, Coast to Coast, GBK, Pizza Express, Nando’s and Las Iguanas have also confirmed.
Air: Bracknell is 13 miles from Heathrow Airport. 98 airlines operate out of Heathrow Airport to 178 cities.
Rail: Bracknell has two railway stations, Bracknell and Martins Heron, both are on the Waterloo to Reading Line, it is now operated by South West Trains.
Road: The town has good road links and is situated at the end of the A329(M), mid-way between Junction 3 of the M3 and Junction 10 of the M4 motorways.
Bus: Ample services are operated locally, bus services are provided by First Berkshire, Courtney Coaches & Thames Travel.
The area has various schools including St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, The Brakenhale School, Easthampstead Park School, Garth Hill College and Ranelagh Church of England School.
Higher Education: Bracknell and Wokingham College of further education is based in the area and is the major supplier of HE for the borough. The Royal Holloway College is also nearby.
Further Education: The Silwood Park campus of Imperial College London is 5 miles to the east of Bracknell town centre. A global centre for research and teaching in ecology, evolution, and conservation, Silwood provides modern academic buildings, laboratories and greenhouses, set in 100 ha of parkland where long-term ecological field experiments are conducted.
The University of Reading is 8 miles to the north-west of Bracknell. It is in the top 1% of the world’s universities, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013–14.
A number of other organisations are active in the area. These consist of an Army Cadet Force detachment (7 Platoon Bracknell) and an Air Training Corps (2211 Squadron).
Shops & Leisure
Shopping & Dining: Bracknell town centre is now completely pedestrianised with much undercover shopping around Princess Square, Charles Square and the Broadway. There are ‘out-of-town’ shops, a multi-screen cinema and ten pin bowling complex at the Peel Centre. There are no shortage of restaurants with worldwide cuisine on offer. Blues Smokehouse in Bracknell High Street has great reviews for its food.
Sport and Culture: The town has ample leisure facilities, a swimming pool, athletics facilities, dry ski slope and an ice rink. There is also the Coral Reef Water Park, the Downshire Golf Complex and the Bracknell Lawn Tennis Club. Visiting The Look Out is also a great day out, with the main attraction being the hands-on science exhibition which has over 90 activities, it also has a gift shop, coffee shop and adventure play area.
Green Space: There are 2,600 acres of Crown Estate woodland at the Look Out Discovery Centre. Westmoreland Park is a calm rural setting, consisting of nearly 9 hectares it is located to the north-east of Bracknell where a wide variety of activities are catered for through its paths, open spaces, play area and pavilion.
South Hill Park (pictured) was built in 1760 and established as an Arts Centre in 1973. It’s a good example of the rich Berkshire heritage that’s been re-purposed for public use.