Friday, 15 February 2019

Council agrees deal to turn field into recreation ground

Council agrees deal to turn field into recreation ground

A FIELD in Sonning Common which is to become a sports and recreation ground has been formally transferred to the ownership of the parish council.

The 10 acres of land opposite Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge School in Reades Lane was previously owned by the Pelly family.

It was offered to the council in return for supporting an application by current owners Linden Homes to develop an adjacent field with 50 new properties.

The deal was endorsed by the examiner of the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan, which was approved in 2016 and supported by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

The developer has also agreed to provide more than £300,000 for fencing, groundworks and laying out the new sports ground, known as Memorial Hall Field. Sonning Common Parish Council chairwoman Carole Lewis and parish clerk Philip Collings signed a document confirming the transfer of the land to the council on Monday last week.

A working party has started to plan the new recreational and social facilities.

Member Alan Gibbon said: “What we do there will depend on the final layout of the area.

“It will proceed in stages. The first will be to landscape the area and we do have some funds available but then we will need to seek grants. We will be approaching the local councils and those sorts of people.

“We will only be able to zero in on this after further consultation. None of this is set in stone at the moment — the key part was to complete the transfer of land.

“I would like to see a sports hall of some description. It is likely to be a social area, perhaps a pavilion, where we could hold weddings and events. The advantage would be that it was revenue-generating.

“The site itself is very undulating, so we want to produce a basin effect so the buildings will overlook the main sporting area. We would also like a walking or running track around the facility.

“There has been talk about putting in a multi-use games area, tennis courts or a swimming pool. We hope that at the very least it will be a nice green space and at the most an area where all age groups can exercise at whatever level they feel is appropriate.”

Diana Pearman, who chairs the group, said the project could take 10 years to complete.

She said: “We would like to get the groundworks done as soon as we have planning permission, but it may be up to a year before we can get on the site at all. The key thing is this is a vision for 10 years. It all depends on where we can get the money from.”

Once funding for the work is secured, the work is likely to be carried out in stages. The groundworks would take place first, followed by car parking, tennis courts, a running track, multi-use games area, café and a toilet block.

Phase two would involve the development of a two-tier community hall with showers, changing rooms, storage rooms and a café area. The community hall would also be used to take some of the pressure off the village hall by hosting events.

Mr Gibbon reiterated that there were no plans to knock down Kidmore End Memorial Hall, which is next to the field.

He added: “There has been a lot of talk in the village that the hall was going to be demolished. I take every opportunity to quash that rumour.”

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