Mapledurham Playing Fields Consultation

A 10 WEEK public consultation exercise on proposals for the future use of Mapledurham Playing Fields is being carried out by the Council and begins today (14th July).

As trustee of the Recreation Ground Charity at Mapledurham, Reading Borough Council’s role is to provide and maintain the Mapledurham Playing Fields for the benefit of residents of the Parish of Mapledurham, and of the Borough of Reading as a whole.

Prompted by the Education Funding Agency’s (the EFA) decision in 2015 to identify part of Mapledurham Playing Fields as its preferred location to build the new Heights Primary School, the Council has received two separate proposals relating to the future use of the Playing Fields. They are:

·        An EFA proposal to provide £1.36 million in funding which could be used to improve leisure facilities on the playing fields. This forms part of the EFA’s proposal to lease 1.231 acres of the 27.35 acre Mapledurham Playing Fields site to build a new school for the Heights Primary School.

·        A proposal called ‘Fit4All’ – put forward by the Mapledurham Playing Fields Foundation – to lease the Playing Fields for fundraising purposes and to manage the grounds without any loss of open space.

Details of both the EFA proposal and the Fit4All proposal can be found on the dedicated Council consultation link at http://www.reading.gov.uk/mapledurhamplayingfields. Residents can have their say by following the same link. The closing date for comments is 25th September 2017 and the consultation results will be reported back to a meeting of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub Committee for consideration.

Councillor Deborah Edwards, Chair of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub Committee, said:

“Reading Borough Council acts as trustee of the Recreation Ground Charity at Mapledurham and the beneficiaries of the Charity are the residents of the Parish of Mapledurham and Reading Borough. As trustee, the Council is asking both sets of residents for their comments on the two proposals that have been received.

 “This consultation takes place in the context of the Education Funding Agency identifying part of Mapledurham Playing Fields as its preferred location for the new Heights Primary School. However, the consultation itself focuses on which of the two proposals could provide the most benefit to residents in terms of future leisure provision on Mapledurham Playing Fields. I would urge as many residents of Mapledurham Parish and Reading Borough to take some time to have their say.”

On December 20th 2016, the EFA’s offer was reported to the Heights Sub Committee (now the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub Committee). Following consideration, the Sub Committee agreed that that the EFA’s offer was, subject to contract, capable of being in the best interests of the Charity. The same Sub Committee also received an alternative proposal, headed ‘Fit4All’, from the Mapledurham Playing Fields Foundation. Both proposals are now the subject to the public consultation exercise.

The purpose of the consultation is to seek the views of the residents of Mapledurham and Reading (the beneficiaries) on four key issues. They are:

1)           If the Council were to grant a lease to the EFA, how should it consider applying the premium of £1.36 million in funding in order best to enable the Charity to use the Playing Fields for recreation?

2)            Is the grant of the lease to the EFA likely to enhance the amenity value of the Playing Fields for  the Charity’s beneficiaries?

3)            Or should the Sub Committee prefer the Fit4All proposal made by the Mapledurham Playing Fields Foundation?

4)            If the lease is granted to the EFA, should the Council as trustee take steps to impose a legal restriction on the remainder of the Playing Fields in order to ensure that it can only be used by the Charity for recreational purposes in the future?

The Council as trustee will be publicising the consultation by distributing leaflets to residents living in Mapledurham Parish and 400m of Mapledurham Playing Fields, which will direct residents to the online consultation at http://www.reading.gov.uk/mapledurhamplayingfields. Leaflets will also be available at Council buildings and amenities in Caversham, including Caversham Library, local community and children’s centres, and advertised in parks and playgrounds. Details will also be circulated to all schools in Caversham, and the consultation will also be publicised through local media and through the Council’s own social media platforms.

As part of the public consultation exercise the Council as trustee will also meet key users of Mapledurham Playing Fields, other user groups and the Mapledurham Management Committee to gather feedback on the key issues outlined above.

Notes To Editors:

Reading Borough Council holds the Mapledurham Playing Fields in its capacity as charity trustee of the Recreation Ground Charity at Mapledurham. The Charity is registered with (and therefore regulated by) the Charity Commission. The charitable object of the Charity is: “the provision and maintenance of a recreation ground for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Mapledurham and the Borough of Reading without distinction of political, religious or other opinions.”