PARKS and open spaces across Reading are set for improvements estimated at over £786k under proposals unveiled this week.
Plans going to the Council’s Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee on Wednesday 14th March 2018 recommend spending £786,700, starting at the end of this year and running to 2020, on recreational areas across the borough.
The majority of these schemes will be funded from contributions from developers secured via Section 106 agreements.
The plans going to committee recommend improvements to a number of parks across the borough. These include:
· Arthur Newbery Park, £26,500, starting summer 2018. One of Reading’s oldest parks would benefit from additional play equipment to cater for the population increase in the area.
· Balmore Walk, £6,900, starting winter 2018. A popular green through route overlooking central Caversham. The funding provides an opportunity to plant and establish new trees to replace old, ailing trees.
· Blagrave Recreation Ground Play Area, £4,500, starting summer 2018. A popular and well used local facility in the centre of Tilehurst village, next to Park Lane School. There are two separate play areas within the park which cater for differing age groups. The funding will be used to contribute towards new self-closing access gates and safety surfacing.
· Cintra Park – Play and Sports Area, £70,000, starting summer 2018. The park has undergone a number of improvements over the last five years including landscaping, completion of a perimeter path and new outdoor fitness stations. The park will now benefit from investment in the playground and sports area.
· Clayfield Copse, £1,800, starting spring 2018. Established as Reading’s first Local Nature Reserve in 1991. The ancient woodland was once part of the Caversham House Estate whose landscapes were designed by Capability Brown. The funding will be used on new tree planting to replace dead and fallen trees and improvements to the car park.
· Eldon Square (Also known as King George V Memorial Gardens), £7,800, starting spring 2019. Designated in 1972 as Reading’s first conservation area. The listed gardens within the town centre will benefit from landscape improvements to increase security along with additional planting.
· Kensington Road Recreation Ground, £5,000, starting spring 2019. A popular park in west Reading which has undergone a number of improvements in recent years, including an extension to the play area, a new ball court, fitness stations and a perimeter path. Further infrastructure improvements will include new outdoor furniture and boundary enhancements.
· Longbarn Lane Recreation Ground, £4,900, starting autumn 2019. Situated to the south of the town, this park will gain new outdoor furniture.
· Palmer Park, £116,200, starting date TBC. As Reading’s second largest park, investment options will be developed to invest in the Council’s indoor and outdoor facilities.
· Prospect Park Sports Pitches/Courts, £77,200, starting summer 2018. The sports pitches that double up as tennis courts at Prospect Park, opened in 2007, have reached the end of their life and are in need of refurbishment.
· Rabson’s Recreation Ground Play Area, £14,800, starting summer 2018. In 2010 the playground underwent a complete refurbishment and extension. It is now the largest and most used in the south Reading area. This funding will enable improvements to the log feature in the play area.
· Robert Hewett Recreation Ground, £10,600, starting summer 2018. This popular park along the Tilehurst Road is particularly well used by families. The park will benefit from path resurfacing and new railings along the front of the recreation ground.
· Victoria Recreation Ground, £43,600, starting summer 2019. Situated next to the new Civitas Primary Academy, this valued open space is in need of significant landscaping and additional seating.
A number of previously approved schemes have been completed, with a few still ongoing. The schemes listed below also include some new funding:
· Thames Parks, £294,100. Work is ongoing as part of the continued implementation of the Thames Parks Plan, which including replacing the house footprint at Caversham Court.
· Fobney Island Tree Work, £33,333. Completed tree work, including coppicing, to improve access to Fobney Island Nature Reserve and its river habitat.
· Forbury Gardens, £50,000, ongoing work to maintain the gardens, including repairs to the fountain, pond cleaning and relining, repairs to lawns, addition of low fencing to protect lawn areas and specialist flint work to main entrance pillars.
· Katesgrove School Play Area, £19,500, completed. New safety surfacing has recently been installed in the play area.
Timescales will remain flexible subject to weather / contractors.
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said:
“I’m delighted we are in a position to deliver such an extensive plan of improvements across Reading’s green spaces. Where we live, and the quality of our immediate environment has a huge impact on our quality of life and wellbeing. This level of investment shows we are committed to keeping the town clean, safe, green and active.
“Subject to approval, this proposed programme of improvements will provide a fantastic boost for recreational facilities all over our borough. We want residents of all ages to benefit from using our open spaces, and I hope this will encourage many more to do so.”
There are also a number of future outline proposals (subject to receipt of funding). Future projects could include:
· Coley Recreation Ground, estimated cost £100,000. Possible extension to the park’s play area, new trim trail/outdoor gym facilities and associated infrastructure.
· Whitley Wood Recreation Ground, estimated cost £132,000. New outdoor sports facilities along with associated infrastructure.
The full report can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/10617/Housing-Neighbourhoods-and-Leisure-Committee-14-MAR-2018
The Council’s Capital Programme approved at February Policy Committee refers to funds in 18/19 of £350k with an in year (17/18) allocation of £317k. The £786k referred to in this report updates on this figures and uses all available Section 106 funds received by autumn 2017. The spend proposals set out in the report would not require any additional borrowing.