KFC has finally responded to speculation over potential new sites in Wokingham and Lower Earley.

Speculation swept Facebook recently when a member of the Earley Residents Discussion Board page took a screenshot of a KFC located in the Lower Earley District Centre, and there have been rumblings that a KFC would be opening in Wokingham in recent years.

Although the screenshot on Facebook indicated that a ‘restaurant’ and a ‘drive thru’ in Lower Earley were both closed, it didn’t stop people predicting that a new KFC is on the way.

Bizarrely enough, a franchisee of the chicken chain, Haider Zaman, obtained advertising consent for KFC branding at Lower Earley District Centre in October last year.

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But this consent has not been acted upon yet. You can view the plans by typing in planning reference 202177 into Wokingham Borough Council’s planning portal here. The plan relates to Unit 5a of the Lower Earley District Centre, to the right of Iceland.

According to the website Franchise Info, Mr Zaman is the head of SBR Group, which possesses at least 14 KFC outlets and Costa Coffee cafes as well.

Reading Chronicle: Designs for a prospective new KFC in Lower Earley, which were approved in October 2020. Credit: Hone Edwards AssociatesDesigns for a prospective new KFC in Lower Earley, which were approved in October 2020. Credit: Hone Edwards Associates

The Lower Earley District Centre currently has a McDonalds, Subway, Domino’s pizza, M&S Foodhall, an Iceland, and a Budgens BP petrol station.

Meanwhile, Wokingham has been identified as a place for a new KFC since the start of last year, with the possibility of the chicken chain opening up in the Elms Field development near the town centre.

KFC was on the lookout for team leaders, cooks and managers in a recruitment drive that was launched in January last year. But the trail appears to have run cold nearly two years after the recruitment drive began.

At the very least, it appears plans to open KFC’s in both of these locations are on hold.

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Responding to public speculation about the potential sites in Wokingham and Lower Earley,  a KFC spokesperson said: “We know our fans are always looking for ways to get their fried chicken fix, so we’re always on the lookout for new sites. Nothing is confirmed yet but watch this space.”

At present, the closest KFC for chicken addicts in Wokingham is either at the KFC in Shinfield Road in Reading or at Bagshot Road in Bracknell.

Oddly enough, when you put Wokingham into the ‘find a KFC’ page on its website, it says its closest site is in Yateley, Hampshire.

Meanwhile, those in Lower Earley can have a KFC a lot closer to home, as its site in Shinfield Road is just a mile away.