A series of potential upgrades at a popular park have been criticised by opposition councillors for ignoring environmental concerns.

The Palmer Park development framework was discussed at the strategic environment, planning and transport committee on Wednesday, November 21.

Green councillor Josh Williams said residents had been suggesting improvements to Palmer Park on an almost constant basis over the last few years,

He said none had mentioned enhancements that the council highlighted as ‘critical’ in its report, such as ‘providing a heart to the park’, improving the setting of the George Palmer statue’ and building a new car park.

The Park ward councillors said he was also disappointed that Park ward councillors had not been involved in the framework earlier and concerned about some of the details.

Cllr Williams also questioned the options suggested for the pool.

He said: “Residents are going to want to see a pool to replace Arthur Hill but not a car park to go over a great wedge of the existing green open space.

“Option one looks very small to be double the width of Arthur Hill. Option two appears to block all the light from the existing building.”

RBC is planning to build a six-lane 25m competition pool in Palmer to replace Arhur Hill, which closed in October 2016. The new pool would be double the width of Arthur Hill under the plans.

Councillor Page, lead member for strategic environment and planning, said: “This is the start of a process to engage with the local community on an agenda which hopefully also lifts division about the potential for the park.

“Hopefully the vision that underpins this document will get people engaging with this in a way that brings benefits to the whole park and is not just focused, narrowly, on the important provision of a new pool.

He added that the issue of green space would covered at next week’s policy committee but a new car park would be necessary.

Lib Dem councillor Meri O’Connell questioned the lack of plans related to the council’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.

She said: “I had expected to see solar panels and renewable energy.

“If this is a structure that is going to serve Reading for decades to come then we need to get these things in at the planning stage.”

Addressing Cllr O’Connell’s concerns, he said: “We have policies for new developments in our local plan that cover this. We would expect any new building to be state-of-the-art in terms of energy conservation and solar panels.