VICTORIA Place is celebrating a year since its mix of retail, hospitality, leisure and residential became a feature of the town centre.

National brands have opened or reopened: Marks & Spencer returned to the town centre with a flagship store in Henry Plaza, 12 years since last trading in the town.

New brands to Woking such as Moss Bros. and Skechers are close by M&S, while in the wider town centre Burger King has opened, HMV is back after a 10-year absence, and Black Sheep Coffee is on its way this spring.

The centre is also supporting independent enterprises: Lark London is a lifestyle brand which has just opened on Commercial Way, the first of its stores to open outside the capital.

The changing face of Woking saw Victoria Place become the new name for the entire town centre development, including the existing Woking Shopping retail and restaurant line-up, the existing cinemas and theatres, the new external Victoria Square; the new internal atrium called Henry Plaza; the new Woking Superbowl, Italia Conti and The Marches. Demand for the studio, one and two-bedroom apartments that make up The Marches residential development is said to have exceeded expectations – occupancy stands at more than 80%. 

Another aspect of the redevelopment was celebrated national performing arts school, Italia Conti, relocating to Woking, adding a new dimension to the arts and cultural offering.

“More than 600 full-time students bring a fresh energy to the town centre,” said Emily Hill of AL Marketing.

“Alongside Nova Cinema and Ambassadors Theatre, leisure experiences now include Woking Superbowl and The Gym Group. 

“The expansion of leisure opportunities has enhanced Victoria Place’s position as a mixed-use destination, providing many more reasons for families to visit and stay longer, to enjoy a whole day out in Woking. The town is becoming a firm favourite for many, with visitor numbers increasing.

“Town centre car parking makes accessibility easy for all and extensive EV charging points provide a much-needed facility,” she added.

“As a destination, Woking continues to evolve and thrive to suit the modern consumer.”

The town centre’s food choices have evolved, providing a wide variety of dining experiences that can appeal to all audiences. 

The range of new food and drink outlets includes Gail’s, itsu, Luciano’s, Wenzel’s, KOMO and Gordon Ramsay’s Street Burger, complemented by the food offerings on Market Walk, such as Shins Bibimbap Café, Bep Viet and Delightfully Greek.

CBeebies favourites Bluey and Bingo made a recent appearance at Central Square. (Picture supplied)

Events have been staged at Central Square to attract visitors, such as the recent appearance of  CBeebies favourites Bluey and Bingo, as well as Paddington. 

Victoria Place has created campaigns around sustainability and the cost of living during the past year.

The toy donation campaign at Christmas saw immense generosity from visitors, with more than 2,800 toys donated to local charity Sebastian’s Action Trust.

Victoria Place also supported the national Great Big Green Week, raising awareness of how we can all do a little more to help our planet.

John Paul Jackson, centre manager, said: “We’re thrilled about how far Victoria Place has come in the past year. Woking is a vibrant, thriving town. 

“There are still great things to come and we will continue to evolve to suit our customers and make Woking a positive place to enjoy.”