SkyTykes example

Approval for Prospect Park Transformation

  • Plans for new play hub and activity centre at Prospect Park approved
  • Work will start on construction during winter 2021

PLANS for a new play hub and activity centre were given the green light Wednesday.

Reading Council plans to invest over £500k to build a new play hub and activity centre in part of the pavilion building at Prospect Park, which will become a new destination for activities, entertainment and learning for families and children from across Reading and beyond.

The proposals went before the Planning Committee yesterday (Wednesday 8 September) and were given full approval.

Work is now anticipated to begin on site towards the end of the year with the aim of opening in spring 2022.

As part of the Council’s ambition to improve health and drive up participation in outdoor and active play, the fantastic new facilities would offer:

  • accessible outdoor family adventure 9-hole mini-golf;
  • an indoor ‘Sky Tykes’ low ropes course for younger children age 7 and under;
  • a café facility with indoor and outdoor seating;
  • new toilet facilities (including an accessible Changing Places facility);
  • multi-function room for parties, meetings and teaching, including those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or excluded from mainstream education;
  • an outdoor education area that will also support Reading Play’s educational outreach work which includes using play as a tool to improve particularly vulnerable young people’s social skills and wellbeing.

Townhall and Blade

The pavilion is the home of the Council’s highly regarded and popular Play Service, and the new centre would also provide an outdoor enclosed education zone to support the team’s educational outreach programmes, including a climbing wall and team building activities, such as den building, archery, an outdoor classroom and much more.

To find out more about the Play project visit www.reading.gov.uk/PlayTransformation

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’m delighted the plans for this exciting project have been approved. I am really eager to see this project become a reality and that we are able to invest over half a million in this ambitious play hub at Prospect Park.

“Prospect Park is our major destination park in west Reading, but people come from all around to enjoy it and this project will play beautifully in enhancing the assets we have in the park for future enjoyment.

“Not only will this benefit the local community, but it will also attract a diverse range of visitors to one of our most prominent green spaces, enhancing its reputation both locally and regionally. Reading currently doesn’t have a significant outdoor activity centre such as Wokingham’s Dinton Pastures or Bracknell’s Go Ape. This proposal for a low ropes course, mini-golf and climbing walls would provide Reading with a unique mix of indoor and outdoor facilities for children and families. I personally can’t wait for a mini-golf round amongst some of Reading’s finest heritage buildings!

“Even more importantly, this development will allow our amazing Play Service to expand the important educational work they do with vulnerable children across the borough. This will be a significant and valuable extension to our provision for vulnerable and SEND children in a fun, safe and welcoming environment. Income generated through paid activities will crucially allow for this vital targeted work to continue.

“I’m really pleased we have been able to include an accessible Changing Places facility within this development – which is a positive step in providing accessible-for-all facilities on the west side of town.

“This is also just one aspect of the enhancement and investment we are making into Prospect Park. We have prioritised the playground as urgently needing improvements, particularly free accessible equipment for children of all abilities.”

 Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, said: “I’m delighted the proposals for the play provision at Prospect Park have been approved. It is a key priority for us to drive an increase in activity, health and well-being across the borough, with targeted work in the community to reach those in most need, and work towards reducing health inequalities. Alongside our major investment in modern new sports facilities at Rivermead and Palmer Park, this development will help us increase leisure opportunities and in doing so significantly improve the health and wellbeing of our young people.”

The project is being funded from money secured via Section 106 agreements and from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – which are both contributions developers make towards local facilities.

The development is just one aspect of the enhancement and investment being made within Prospect Park. The playground has been prioritised as urgently needing improvements, particularly free accessible equipment for children of all abilities. Plans for the playground have received planning approval and work is also anticipated to start in spring 2022. Details for relocation and enhancements to the children’s playground can be found here: www.reading.gov.uk/ProspectPlayground    

With exciting plans for a new play hub and activity centre at Prospect Park now approved and moving forward, it means an alternative location or a walk-through Covid testing site will need to be found over the next few months.

Whilst the testing centre was well used, this was always intended to be a temporary arrangement pending plans for the Council’s activity centre plans moving forward. We will now work with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to find a suitable new location.

Work on the Activity Centre is not expected to begin until late this year. In the interim period, it is important to say the Prospect Park walk-through COVID testing site remains open as usual and we will widely publicise information on any alternative site nearer the time.

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Notes to editors

Notes

Concept images of the activity centre are available here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmU6oSqb

About Reading Play

Reading Play encourage learning opportunities and social experiences for 0 to 13 years olds through play. The team support vulnerable children with respite and use play as a tool to improve particularly vulnerable young people’s social skills and wellbeing. Children’s lives are enhanced by playing creatively, allowing for learning and development as individuals.

Targeted educational support includes:

  • Supporting young people with independence, development and educational attainment
  • Playground games and sport to encourage physical activity
  • Transition support – into new schools/classrooms
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support in Schools
  • Running out of school play-based learning programmes for children and young people who have no educational placement
  • School travel training service
  • Short Breaks
  • Respite provision – young carers
  • Mentoring young people through play.
  • The team also provides After School Clubs, Holiday Play Clubs, and events such as the Summer Play Days.

This development will allow the Play team to target work with children and young people by providing alternative learning experiences for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and activities aimed at reducing school exclusions and their impact. Income generated by public activities will be invested into targeted services offered to vulnerable children both on-site and in school.