FUMING residents have called the possibility of a new 3G football pitch being built on Laurel Park 'scandalous'.

The proposal would see a 3G floodlit pitch installed, with the capacity of having four five-a-side pitches and two seven-a-side pitches within it.

Wokingham Borough Council believe that this is necessary as data from Playing Pitch Strategy suggests that over 540 teams in Wokingham are in need of an additional 3G pitch.

Laurel Park pitches were rated as ‘poor’ within the report and so maintenance work has begun to bring them back up to standard.

The proposal also includes the potential of additional parking, a two-metre-high acoustic fence, and a midweek closing time of 10pm.

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Above: A mock up of how the pitch would look at Laurel Park

A number of residents have hit out at the proposal.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Laurel Park is a conservation area and wildlife reserve, a beautiful green space in what was when it was built, the largest housing estate in Europe.

“It is absolutely scandalous this area is even being considered for this purpose.

"Wokingham Borough Council should be ashamed of themselves.

"They should be protectors of this area. This is an area for the whole of the community to use, not just for the use of one section of the community – football.

“I love football, I love sport, I want youngsters to play and exercise, but not at the expense of Laurel Park.

“Not only do residents need to know about this proposal to give them the chance to object, but so does the wider community as this will be another green space that will be violated - once it's gone, it's gone!

“From what I can gather not all of the surrounding areas that will be impacted have been notified. Having spoken to people in the area though, most are unaware.”


Above: The proposed site

The resident  put forward a number of other areas that they believed were better suited including developing existing facilities at Maiden Erlegh School (a 10 min walk from Laurel Park), Loddon Valley Centre (a 20 min walk from Laurel Park), Chalfont Park (a 25 min walk from Laurel Park) or Sol Jol.

Adding: “None of the those sites would involve digging up a beautiful green space and have such a detrimental impact to the conservation area and wildlife at Laurel Park.”

Social media posts online claimed very few residents were aware of the proposals.

One user of the park said: “It seems a shame to take away the open space.

“Why can’t they continue as they are? I’d object to it.”

While another said: “There’s more than one user of Laurel Park, what about their needs?

“It’s only a small group of users who are going to see the benefit of that.”

Planning permission has not yet been applied for as part-funders Football Foundation need to be satisfied with surveys regarding the impact the development would have on the local area.

The site currently hosts matches on grass on both Saturday's and Sunday's, as well as summer training.

Wokingham Borough Council executive member for Environment and Leisure Parry Batth said: “With demand from grassroot football clubs continuing to outstrip local availability it’s important we can create new all-weather 3G pitches to meet demand and help people keep active and well throughout the year.

“We’re looking at where these could be located across the borough, with the Council’s Executive considering Laurel Park as a preferred option last summer.

“We’re currently carrying out feasibility studies to assess the site in more detail before making any decisions or starting design work. 

“Should we decide to move forward with a new community facility at Laurel Park it would be subject to obtaining full planning permission, including engagement with local residents, and detailed environmental studies.”