The council’s decision making executive has approved proposals to deliver the Leisure Strategy (2021-25).
The proposal includes using Section 106 (money paid by housing developers for new and improved facilities) funding to enhance sports facilities at The Forest School in Winnersh and the progression of a new 3G pitch, subject to planning, Football Foundation funding and public consultation. A technical appraisal has identified Maiden Erlegh School in Earley as a potential site for the new 3G pitch, but no decision will be made until a full public consultation is held in September.
Enhancement at The Forest School
The council has identified Section 106 funding to be used in Winnersh and has selected The Forest School for improvements to its swimming pool floor, refurbishment of the gym with the installation of air conditioning, enhancement of gym equipment and equipment for the sports pitches.
After the improvements have been made, there will be the opportunity for the facilities to be used for community sessions, particularly targeting the borough’s BAME community and vulnerable adults and children for swimming pool and gym usage. More information on community use will be released once the improvements have been completed.
The council’s executive member for environment, sport and leisure, Cllr Ian Shenton said: “I am pleased that The Forest School’s physical activity facilities will be enhanced. Improvements are much needed at this comprehensive boys school and the funding will come from developers. Once the improvements have been made, the gym, swimming pool and sports pitches will enrich the lives of our residents by providing yet another great leisure facility to help complement an active lifestyle. Additionally, it will allow the council to target and encourage minority groups to use these improved facilities.”
Enhancements to the school’s gym is expected to cost £133,000 and the swimming pool improvements is expected to cost £74,000. £1,000 is allocated for new equipment for the sports pitches.
New 3G pitch site proposed at Maiden Erlegh School
A Local Football Facility plan conducted by the Football Foundation revealed that Wokingham Borough has more than 524 football teams and there is a need for additional 3G pitches to be built, particularly as there is growth being seen each year.
Previously, Laurel Park in Earley had been considered for the site of the new 3G pitch, however a technical appraisal has taken place to include the original option and five other proposed sites which include Maiden Erlegh School in Earley, Chalfont Park in Earley, Lower Earley Events Field, the field next to Sindlesham Mill in Earley and Meredith Way in Earley.
The technical appraisal identified that the site at Maiden Erlegh School would be the most suitable location for the new 3G pitch but no decision will be made until a full public consultation is held in September.
The cost of the 3G pitch with associated works is around £800,000. The council would contribute £300,000 and the Football Foundation would contribute £500,000 towards the project.
The proposal of the new pitch would address the shortfall in 3G provision and cater for the demand from affiliated footballs clubs and the local community.
Cllr Shenton continued: “We know that football is a popular sport as we have seen a huge increase in the number of football teams in Wokingham Borough. We also recognise that there is a shortage of football pitches and as part of the Leisure Strategy, we want to provide high quality pitches to help our residents keep fit and thrive.
“An extensive public consultation will be carried out to determine whether the proposed site of Maiden Erlegh School would be suitable for the new 3G pitch. I am encouraging all residents to take part in the consultation and express any views or concerns they may have. The consultation will be held in-person and online. We will be releasing information on the consultation in due course, so keep a look out on our Engage Wokingham website, news website, newsletters and social media channels.”
If the site is agreed following the consultation, planning application will need to be submitted by mid-October 2022 and a bid for the Football Foundation submitted by January 2023. A decision from the Football Foundation bid should be received by April 2023 and if approved, the pitch could be built during next year’s school summer holiday with an expected completion date of September 2023.
About the council’s leisure strategy (2021-25)
Whilst Wokingham Borough regularly tops national polls and was named the healthiest place to live in 2021, the council identified that the borough’s growing population needs to be supported by a robust leisure offer to enhance wellbeing and enrich the lives of its residents.
The council’s Leisure Strategy (2021-25) will deliver informal leisure opportunities across its wide range of high quality open spaces and more formal sports and leisure facilities across Wokingham Borough.
The strategy outlines four key priorities:
- Promoting health and wellbeing to residents
- Raising participation and reducing levels of inactivity
- Maintain and extend accessibility to indoor leisure facilities
- Maintain and extend accessibility to outdoor spaces
Learn more about the Leisure Strategy (2021-25) by visiting the council’s website.
More from Wokingham Borough Council
Stay connected to the communities around you. Enjoy the latest news, updates and highlights straight in your inbox. Subscribe to our Wokingham Borough Connect newsletters now.