READING will be home to a major regional outdoor activity and education centre under exciting plans being brought forward by the Council for the former Leaderboard site at Rivermead.
Positioned on the banks of the Thames, the centre will feature a high ropes adventure facility, archery, mini golf and laser clay pigeon shooting. A natural play/learning zone will offer den and fire building, adventurous play, an outdoor class room and much more.
The centre will be open to the general public throughout the year but the Council will maximise the benefit to the Reading community by opening it up for school and other educational use during term times.
As well as a new base for the Council’s highly regarded and popular Play Service, it will become an exciting new destination for whole class activities and learning for nursery, primary and secondary aged children from across Reading.
An innovative and varied programme of activities will provide new curriculum-focused outdoor learning for all ages, targeting improved achievement in Reading schools and promoting physical activity for young people.
More targeted work with children and young people will focus on providing alternative learning experiences for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and activities aimed at reducing school exclusions and their impact.
The Council’s plans for the new outdoor activity and education centre sit alongside its proposed investment in two modern new swimming pools in the town, including one on land at Rivermead. Set against the backdrop of the Thames and adjoining parkland, the Rivermead site provides a unique opportunity to develop a principal recreational and leisure destination for Reading, offering a wide range of formal and informal facilities.
Leaderboard has leased the land at Rivermead from Reading Borough Council for 17 years for its driving range business. The lease was renegotiated in early 2016, but at a time of unprecedented financial pressures the Council does not believe the revised terms represent the best return for the site, or maximises its benefit to the wider community. The Council is therefore ending Leaderboard’s lease of the site with the aim of opening up the new outdoor activity centre by autumn 2017.
Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture and Sport, said:
“These are extremely exciting plans for a regional outdoor activity centre right here in the heart of Reading. The variety of activities on offer will make for a great day out and will attract families and visitors from miles around.
“What makes the plans particularly exciting is that the centre will double up as a unique new learning experience for schools, children and young people from across the town.
“We firmly of the belief that these plans provide the best value for money by maximising the use of what is a prime riverside location, while at the same time offering a fantastic new facility for children and young people in Reading right on their own doorstep.
“The Council’s approach is to invest in modern new sports and leisure activities for Reading and these plans sit alongside the planned building of two new swimming pools for Reading, one of which will be nearby on land at Rivermead. It means Rivermead will become a fantastic leisure and recreation destination for the town and for the wider region.”
Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Education, said:
“This is a wonderful opportunity to provide a unique new learning experience for every child who attends a school in Reading. We know that learning through this sort of outdoor activity inspires young people so I am delighted these plans are coming forward.
“The Council’s play service continues to be highly regarded by parents and young people. By being based at the new centre they will have the perfect location to continue their fantastic work.
“The centre will be particularly important for promoting physical activity and for providing new and exciting leaning opportunities for children with special educational needs or disabilities.
“It will be located in the heart of Reading and available for every Reading school to use. I’m sure it will not be long before we begin to see schools from outside the town taking advantage of the facilities also.”
Notes To Editors:
Early artists impressions of the proposed ‘high ropes’ facilities at the Council’s new outdoor activity and education centre are available on request, as are images of similar successful ‘high ropes’ facilities which operate in other parts of the country.