Major Investment in Reading’s Parks and Play Areas Well Underway

Prospect Park Courts

READING COUNCIL’S major investment across Reading’s parks, play areas and open spaces is set to continue this year, with a number already completed and many due to start soon or already well underway.

The Council is investing in improving and modernising services and facilities across the town so that every resident can benefit. That includes major investments in Reading’s parks and other leisure facilities, including two new swimming pools for Reading. A report going before Reading Council’s Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee on Wednesday 3rd July, provides an overview of the Council’s improvement programme for leisure, parks and open spaces between 2018 to 2020. The update focuses on two key strands of investment, £603K of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – the contribution developers are expected to make towards local facilities – for six major projects and just over £786K funded from contributions from developers secured via Section 106 agreements, for 20 projects. The results of a public consultation last year on where the £603K CIL money should be spent selected the following projects: · Avon Place Play Area Improvements (£100,000) · Ivydene Play Area Improvements (£100,000) · Cintra Park Play Area Improvements (£95,000) · Coley Recreation Ground Outdoor Gym (£65,000) · Prospect Park (£88,000) · Long Barn Lane Outdoor Gym and Teen Facilities (£155,000) A project is currently underway to relocate the play area at Avon Place to Canal Way, providing an entirely new and larger play area and at Longbarn Lane, a design brief and specification is currently being drawn up, with work expected to start next year. Public consultations to select the preferred designs for Ivydene play area and Coley Outdoor Gym were ran last month, with the work anticipated to start on site in September 2019 and ready for use by the half term week in October. A detailed report on Prospect Park improvements is also due later this year. Of the 20 park improvement projects funded from £786,700 Section 106 contributions from developers, 13 have successfully completed (with 2 receiving additional funding for further work), 5 are ongoing and 1 is due to start this summer. These include: · Arthur Newbery Park (£26,500) - Completed · Balmore Walk (£6,900) - Completed · Blagrave Rec Ground – Play Area (£4,500) - Completed · Cintra Park – Play and Sports Area (£70,000) - Completed (Further CIL funding awarded) · Clayfield Copse (£1,800) - Completed · Eldon Square (£7,800) Started Spring 2019 · Fobney Island Tree Work (£33,300) - Completed · Forbury Gardens (£50,000) Ongoing · Katesgrove School Play Area (£19,500) Completed · Kensington Road Recreation Ground (£5,000) Completed · Long Barn Lane Recreation Ground (£4,900) Completed (Further CIL funding awarded) · Lorenzo Quelch Play Area (£3,897.78) Completed · Lousehill Copse (£40,500) Ongoing · Oxford Road Community Garden (£3,586.75) Ongoing · Palmer Park (£116,200) Completed · Prospect Park Sports Pitches/Courts (£77,200) Completed (Further CIL funding awarded) · Rabson’s Recreation Ground Play Area (£14,800) Ongoing · Robert Hewett Recreation Ground (£10,600) Completed · Thames Parks (£294,100) Ongoing · Victoria Recreation Ground (£43,600) Starting Summer 2019 A further £2.8 million boost for parks, playgrounds and open spaces over the next five years, with £1.6 million formally approved for 2019-2022, will contribute to the expansion, replacement or upgrading of playground equipment in parks and play areas across the borough, with a focus on areas in most need of new equipment and a big drive on providing accessible equipment for children of all abilities, particularly in areas where there is little provision for children with disabilities. Reading’s two main parks, Prospect Park and Palmer Park, are priorities for improvements to play equipment, including the provision or replacement of obsolete equipment for children with disabilities. Park users and local residents will be consulted on the type of equipment they want to see.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said:

“I’m delighted to be able to highlight the progress being made in improvements to parks and open spaces across Reading. “As difficult as the budget position is, the Council is committed to delivering real improvements for residents in the areas we know matter to them. Over the next three years this major investment will benefit all residents as our parks are one of few places people can enjoy themselves for nothing and benefit from the opportunity to keep fit, relax and spend quality down-time with their friends and families. “We also fully intend to consult local people on the proposed improvements via our capital investment programme. Providing areas that can be enjoyed by all is one of our key priorities and to that, providing accessible equipment so that children of all abilities can play together comes as a key priority that we are continuing to improve over the next year. We will be prioritising work at two of Reading’s main parks, Prospect in west Reading and Palmer Park in east Reading.” View the full report at: