More than £1.6million is set to be invested at Cantley Park in Wokingham if enhancement proposals are agreed by Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive at its meeting next Monday (23 December).
The proposed enhancements would transform the park’s facilities to include a new start-of-the-art 3G pitch (subject to planning approval and Football Foundation grant), upgraded pavilion with café facilities, and an artificial cricket wicket. Improvements would also be made to the current grass pitches.
This enhancement project would bring significant benefit to the park’s large number of users, including those who use the park for sport and relaxation as well as individuals and families.
In recent years, the borough has seen a rise in the number of football teams and there are currently some 534 active teams across the borough. Growing demand and participation means that more training facilities are required locally.
To meet this demand an additional nine 3G pitches are needed as teams are traveling outside the borough to use football pitches and winter training facilities. Cantley Park would be the fifth 3G pitch built in the borough. By providing more 3G pitches it means that teams would no longer have to travel outside the area for matches and training.
The council is relooking at parking at the site and work is underway to add 40 more parking spaces which would help alleviate parking issues on site and in neighbouring residential areas.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, said: “The borough council is investing millions of pounds in leisure and recreational facilities in the local area at a time when many local authorities around the country are scaling back provision.
“Cantley Park is the largest park with playing pitches that are used by so many people from across the whole borough but it needs modernising to ensure its fit for purpose. These proposals, if agreed by executive, would be fantastic for local teams, who would no longer have to travel outside the borough for matches or training.
“But these enhancements would not only benefit the football community but all our borough residents. Visiting the park, whether to exercise, meet friends, walk the dog or simply relax, is good for our health and wellbeing. These proposals would see significant investment in a much loved and well used facility.”
Enhancing the pitches and building the new 3G pitch is subject to funding (a mixture of S106 money and grant funding, if successful, from Football Foundation) and planning permission.
This project would take place in two phases. The first phase would see 3G pitch installed, and pavilion and parking upgraded; while the second phase would see improvements to the grass pitches.
Drop-in information sessions
If proposals are agreed by the executive, the council will hold a number of drop-in information sessions in January before submitting a planning application for the 3G pitch in March 2020. Work would start subject to planning permission and funding approval from the Football Foundation in the summer.
In addition, the council is also planning a major refurbishment and expansion of the existing play facilities to create a new destination play area. The project would be funded by developer contributions to provide enhanced borough-wide facilities for local residents and work is expected to start in 2020/21.