Saturday, 27 February 2021

School to work with residents on new floodlit sports facilities

School to work with residents on new floodlit sports facilities

NEW sports facilities are to be built at Queen Anne’s School in Caversham despite opposition from residents.

The independent girls’ school in Henley Road is to build an artificial pitch, sprint track and long jump pit with floodlights, a pavilion, changing rooms and indoor tennis centre.

The £1.5 million development was approved by Reading Borough Council’s planning committee.

There were 67 letters of objection. Residents were worried about noise levels, light pollution, the impact on parking and the hours of use for the wider community.

The artificial pitch would be used by students from 9am to 6pm and would be open to local sports teams until 9pm on weekdays with no outside lettings at weekends.

Following the complaints, the school made a number of changes to the application.

The tennis courts will only be used by pupils, with no weekend use of the floodlights, and the lighting has been redesigned to reduce light spillage. Plans for a new car parking area were scrapped. Neil Boddington, of Boddingtons Planning, a Watlington consultancy firm working with the school, said: “We’ve met local residents and we’ve made some alterations in accordance with their requests, in order to show willing and be a good neighbour. The noise seems to be the major issue here.

“The school has a sports programme to last for the next 20 years. There have been major improvements to indoor facilities and music and this is the final step. It needs to offer high quality for the students and it is only right that when these facilities are not being used that they are offered to the community.”

Councillor Jo Lovelock proposed approving the plans, saying: “It is always difficult for residents when a proposal like this comes forward. The key to this is probably good communication between the residents and the school so that if there are breaches and if noise gets out of control, the school can deal with it as quickly as possible.”

Councillor Tony Page said: “The public benefit of increased use of sports facilities is something that we all support. While this represents greater use, the fact is there are conditions which will control the use and this recognises the impact on adjoining properties.”

Headmistress Julia Harrington told the Henley Standard: “With all of the talk around covid at the moment, it is clear that physical health is very important and what we hope to do is be a real beacon in the community for young people.

“There is such a shortage in the Caversham area, particularly for tennis. We’ve always been a sporty school and we punch above our weight despite not having the best facilities and this is our attempt to bring those into a much better category for our own students to match other schools.

“We really got the residents involved — taking them on walks around the school — and I hope we’ve addressed all of their concerns. We’ve always tried to be good neighbours and we will continue to be. If there are things we haven’t taken into account, we will listen.

“We want this to work well and for everybody to be happy.”

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