Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive is set to consider a report to approve its new draft leisure strategy (2021-2025) and plans to consult with residents and stakeholders at its meeting on Thursday 25 March.
The strategy sets out plans to support residents physical and emotional wellbeing through the council’s own leisure offering and through effective partnerships with a wide range of other organisations. This includes proposals to establish a new ‘Active Wokingham’ Partnership to support collective efforts to ensure that high quality facilities and opportunities remain affordable, accessible, and sustainable.
The plans will support the council’s community vision for Wokingham Borough to ‘be a great place to live, learn, work, and grow and a great place to do business.’
Wokingham recently topped national polls and was named healthiest place to live. As the Borough’s population grows the council wants to ensure the leisure offer can play a significant role in enhancing well-being and enriching the lives of residents. This includes informal leisure opportunities across our wide range of high-quality open spaces and active travel as well our more formal sports and leisure facilities.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure said: “We are committed to supporting and improving the health and wellbeing of our residents. The draft leisure strategy is a clear demonstration of our dedication to provide the best leisure provisions and outdoor spaces for all of our residents, making Wokingham Borough the healthiest place to live in the UK”.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has showcased just how important access to health and leisure facilities is to the public, including residents across our borough. We look forward to listening to our residents about what services would best support their wellbeing and building that into our strategy.”
The proposed strategy will build on the council’s existing leisure projects with more than £50million invested or committed, including:
- Bulmershe Leisure Centre (completed) £14.5m
- Ryeish Green & Arborfield leisure facilities (completed) £ 4.9m
- Parking and toilet facilities California Country Park (completed) £ 2.1m
- Loddon Valley Leisure Centre (completed) £2.2m
- Emmbrook 3G Football Pitch (completed) £800,000
- Cantley Park ‘Greenway’ enhancements (completed) £320,000
- Carnival Pool Leisure Centre (underway) £23m
- Cantley Park Enhancements (underway) £ 2.5m
- Dinton Pastures Country Park activity centre (underway) £ 2.4m
- Arborfield Primary School 3G Football Pitch (underway) £800,000
The council already runs several prevention programmes which are aimed at those with long term health conditions, including mental health and wellbeing support, cardiac rehabilitation and falls prevention. There are also classes for the wider public, including, SHINE (Some Health Improvements Need Exercise) which is a specialist over 60s exercise programme, Ageing Actively, a programme for older residents experiencing loneliness or isolation and dedicated disability sessions for adults and children.
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
There has been a growing demand to enhance and improve access to the borough’s leisure offer, which has been further highlighted due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with many people turning to walking, cycling and other outdoor physical activity.
The uptake of outdoor activity also supports the council’s ‘active travel’ initiatives and the enhancement of publicly accessible open space, assisting aims to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint.
Wokingham Borough Council plan to consult extensively with residents and stakeholders on the draft leisure strategy ensuring the planned investments and areas of focus accurately support local people’s needs. If approved by the executive, the consultation will run from April to June.
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