Sunday, 22 September 2019

Planning application for sports ground submitted

Planning application for sports ground submitted

A PLANNING application to create a sports and recreation ground in Sonning Common has finally been submitted.

The parish council wants to turn a 10-acre field off Reades Lane into a sports pitch with a multi-use games area, tennis courts and picnic and events areas.

It could also have an outdoor gym, multi-sport zones, rehabilitation areas, a coffee shop, hospitality space and parking.

Other ideas include a community building, ice rink or even a swimming pool but these would cost up to £10million so would require funding from South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, and national grant bodies such as Sport England.

The land, known as Memorial Hall Field, was offered to the parish council by developer Linden Homes and owners the Pelly family for a nominal fee of £1 in return for supporting an application for 50 new properties in an adjacent field. It has been earmarked for leisure in the village’s neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in 2016 and is supported by the district council.

The ownership of the land was transferred to the council in
February.

Linden Homes has agreed to provide more than £300,000 for fencing, groundworks and laying out the new sports ground. 

The parish council is currently accepting estimates from companies to carry out the groundworks.

Diana Pearman, who chairs the Memorial Hall Field working party, said: “It’s the first step to making it a useable space.

“There will be a flattened area in the centre and around the edges there will be a bund and on that bund there could be a trackway.  The car parking and access will require a separate application, which is being prepared at the moment. 

“This is the beginning of what could potentially be a 10-year project because we are talking about vast sums of money which have to be raised — it depends what we put on the site.

“We are still in the discussion stage and the groundworks will take a little bit of time. We are talking about planting as well, so this probably won’t be completed until next summer.”

She added: “I am sure that people will welcome it when they realise it will be available to all. There’s a large community around Sonning Common. It includes Peppard and Kidmore End and I am sure some of these people will benefit and use the recreation ground.”

Residents feared that Kidmore End War Memorial Hall, which is next to the field, could be knocked down.  However, the working party has said this will not happen and it is not part of the plans. 

Carole Lewis, who chairs the parish council, was pleased the application had been submitted. She said: “It has taken a lot of hard work but we are absolutely delighted because clearly it will be a wonderful facility to have for the village and we will embrace it. 

“We have already been using part of the site for various successful children’s fun activites this summer.

“Frankly, I would think the neighbouring villages are very envious.

“This is just the start and it’s very much a work in progress. A lot of thought has gone into it and we are going to need some funds to complete it.”

Parish clerk Philip Collings said: “I’m glad the application has gone in. The real work starts now — there’s a massive amount to do.”

The district council is due to make a decision on the application by November 6.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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