AN IMPORTANT planning document which will help shape proposals to build a new community swimming pool at Palmer Park is set to go out to public consultation.
The draft Palmer Park development framework has been produced to provide a planning blueprint for the new pool, which forms part of Reading Borough Council’s commitment to provide modern and much-improved new facilities for swimmers.
While emerging planning policies already exist for Palmer Park, these are very high level. The Council wants to ensure more detailed guidance is in place for Palmer Park to ensure the development of a new swimming pool is seen in the context of the wider character of the park and its surroundings.
On Wednesday September 21st, a meeting of the Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee (SEPT) will be asked to approve a draft development framework for Palmer Park for a period of community consultation. All feedback will then be considered before the framework is amended and then adopted as a formal development brief.
As well as being an important green space and local park, Palmer Park is home to a number of well-used facilities including the stadium athletics track and velodrome, the bowling club and sports pitches. There are also a number of underused facilities which have the potential to become attractive and well used spaces.
The draft framework focuses on a number of key principles. These are:
- Retain the character of the northern part of the park
- Reinstating the heart of the park
- Strengthening the active centre
- Joining up paths and re-discovering historic links
- Consolidating car parking
The draft framework provides two options for the development of the new swimming pool. The first option is to join the new pool to the existing stadium building. The second option focuses on the principle of re-using the existing building and attaching the new pool use onto the front. Both options form part of the consultation process.
The framework also proposes a range of improvements to the park. Key to this is the idea of providing a ‘heart’ to the park, an improved setting for the George Palmer statue, reinstated pedestrian routes and a proposed new car park area.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Palmer Park is an important green space which serves local residents as a valued community park and is also home to a number of existing leisure facilities with local and regional significance.
“The Council’s plans to build a new swimming pool at Palmer Park, to replace Arthur Hill, means it is important that a detailed and site-specific development brief is put in place to help guide future development. The draft brief focuses on a number of important themes which include reinstating the heart of the park, retaining character, strengthening the leisure offer and consolidating car parking.
“In terms of the positioning of the new swimming pool, the development brief offers two options and this will also form an important part of the community consultation when it goes live.”
The full SEPT Committee Report can be found at http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/9731/Item10/pdf/Item10.pdf. The draft development framework is included as an attachment to the report. Details of how people can comment on the draft development proposal will be publicised nearer the time.
Earlier this year Reading Borough Council began a procurement process to identify a single leisure provider to improve and operate all its indoor leisure facilities across the town.
Plans for a brand new 6-lane community pool at Palmer Park to replace the closed Arthur Hill Pool, and the long-term replacement for Central Pool – a modern new competition pool, complete with diving provision, which will be located on land at Rivermead – form a major part of the procurement process which is on-going. Facilities at Palmer Park Stadium, Meadway Sports Centre and South Reading Leisure Centre are also be included, as will, initially, the temporary demountable pool which opened in January 2018 to replace Central Pool in the short-term.