A WOKINGHAM councillor has backed a campaign group’s calls to revise plans for a community facility.
Cllr Gary Cowan supported Yes to the Hub’s plight against Crest Nicholson’s proposed Arborfield Green Sports Pavilion, which the group believes will only benefit a small portion of the village’s community.
The Arborfield Independent councillor described Crest’s designs as “without character” and “an opportunity missed”, but believes there is still time to improve the proposals.
Yes to the Hub have been pitching an alternative solution, which is based on a pre-existing pavilion used by Oxfordshire Cricket Club.
Cllr Cowan said: “I welcome a sports pavilion, admittedly four years late, but as a design it lacks any soul and is out of character with the surrounding environment.
“Internally it lacks sufficient changing rooms for all its users and high windows one cannot look out of is very impersonal. There is a lack of storage facilities for the users and one EV charging point is totally inadequate.”
He believes that the sports pitches by Whitehall Drive and Barid Road should remain as an open space, as detailed in the agreement between Crest and Wokingham Borough Council, rather than be used as a car park.
Cllr Cowan added that a communal bar, restaurant or cafe would encourage members of the community to use the facility and generate funding to support it.
“Although I do welcome the scheme, sadly I think it’s a lost opportunity to build the best pavilion possible, dictated by funding it can,” he said.
“The design is actually without character when the opportunity to build something residents and users would be proud of will be missed. It’s not too late to make changes for the better.”
Yes to the Hub’s suggested facility would include a cafe and hireable space which would be open to residents seven days a week with both recreational and community-facing uses.
It claims its alternative proposal will cost £250,000 more than Crest’s building and believes the differential can be sourced through grants, loans, donations and fundraising.
Resident Martin Prodger said: “Crest Nicholson aren’t interested in loneliness, mental health and anti-social issues in the area. They couldn’t give a monkeys.
“The big fear is that if the building is only used by a few people, there will be no social ownership. It’ll get vandalised if people aren’t using it – it’s about creating a space where we can nurture young people, introduce them to soft sports and ultimately integrate them into the society.”
Members of the public were able to offer feedback on the live planning application for the pavilion until the deadline on February 17.
A spokesperson from Crest Nicholson said the developers would review all comments made and “take them into consideration.”