Arborfield Aces slam new sports pavilion as ‘mediocre’

The council’s planning committee approved the plans to revamp the sports facilities on Princess Marina Drive on Wednesday, June 12. It’s part of developer Crest Nicholson’s requirement to provide new community facilities to serve the development.

But some residents felt the refurbishment didn’t match up to what they were promised. Martin Prodger chair of Arborfield Aces football club told the committee: “As a football club we’re totally behind this project – we love every aspect of it.”

But he added he felt residents’ suggestions for social facilities in the pavilion to support sports clubs and the wider community – such as a cafe and bar – had not been listened to. He said the proposed new pavilion was ‘mediocre at best.’

READ MORE: Arborfield centre approved – but residents ‘lost faith’ in developers

He said: “Now we have a pavilion designed with no cafe, no bar and no rental social space.

“As a football club we believe the application is brilliant but as a heavily invested local resident we believe this could have been so much more and we have all missed a massive opportunity for the local residents.”

The sports facilities will include refurbished rugby, football and cricket pitches and tennis courts, a new pavilion, two play areas, a multi-use games area and allotments. These will be handed over to the council once complete.

Crest Nicholson’s project director David Digby told the committee that the proposals provided ‘high quality sporting facilities’. He said the pavilion ‘features a club room with kitchen, serving facilities and changing rooms.’

He said: “The club room itself is a generous space served by kitchen with serveries internal and external capable to support a range of uses and events and could be hired out by the council to generate income to support the running of the pavilion.”

Overall plans for the entire 2,000-home development also included proposals for a community centre and cafes.

Council planning officer Joanna Carter noted that plans for the village’s new district centre, approved last October, included a community centre and cafes.

She said: “The community facilities to be provided as part of the outline planning application have always been intended to be delivered in the neighbourhood centre to the north and within the district centre.”

Members of the committee voted to approve the plans – but said that residents should be listened to and kept informed about the progress of the development.

Councillor Wayne Smith suggested that the council should consider allowing a community group to run the facility once it has opened: “I think it’s essential that you listen to the community.

“The second point is making sure you take the residents with you because if you don’t it’s going to be a white elephant.”

Reading Chronicle | West Berkshire