Wokingham Borough Council selected Wokingham Without Parish Council as the preferred operator for a new community centre at its January executive meeting last night (30 January). The new community centre will be at the heart of the new development in South Wokingham.
In July 2019, Wokingham Without Parish Council contacted the Council to formally express their interest in operating the new community facility being delivered as part of the South Wokingham Strategic Development Location. The parish council have an established track record in running community facilities, having operated the very successful Pinewood Centre and the St Sebastian’s Memorial Hall.
As part of their aspiration to operate the community facility in the South Wokingham SDL, the parish council has been actively engaging with the local community through their preparation for their Neighbourhood Plan to gather ideas about what residents want for the new facility.
“Community centres are the heart of a neighbourhood. As we build these new communities across the borough, we are ensuring they come with the right infrastructure: roads, schools, sports facilities and community centres,” said Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement. “This new facility will serve the new residents in South Wokingham and we are pleased to have Wokingham Without Parish Council step up to run it.”
“We are looking to create and operate an attractive and comprehensive hub that provides a welcoming meeting space for residents, with room for activities and social spaces, that will be a place people want to visit and a building that will serve the needs of the local community,” said Cllr Ken Newland, chair of Wokingham Without Parish Council. “At this early stage, we’d like to encourage residents to come forward with ideas and suggestions for what the building should provide. Please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.”.
The borough council considers the parish council’s success in running the Pinewood Centre and their commitment to engage with the community in and around South Wokingham as support for their bid to operate the centre.
The parish council have indicated a willingness to explore options to enhance the facility with their own investment, should this benefit the new community. This would require council approval. The borough council and the parish council will begin to collaborate on a design and to negotiate on a lease, both of which will require council approval.