Building a new 3G football pitch at a local school would cause residents ‘untold misery’, Wokingham Borough Council has heard. 

Proposed at Maiden Erlegh School in Earley, the artificial pitch plan prompted seven members of the public to raise their concerns with the council’s executive during a meeting last Thursday (October 27). 

Issues relating to pollution, increased congestion, and safety were highlighted to the executive member for environment, sport, and leisure, Cllr Ian Shenton – who says, due to a shortage of sports pitches in the borough, the council wants to provide “high quality” solutions to “meet the demand”.   

Sandra Spencer said “everyone [she] spoke to” is against the plan due to the “massive negative impact” the pitch would bring to their quality of life. 

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She suggested the noise, traffic, and parking problems would cause local people “untold misery”, disputing the council’s claims that it seeks to “enhance” the lives of residents. 

Last month the council hosted two drop-in sessions regarding the proposal, where attendees were able to view the plans and visuals, as well as provide feedback.   

Cllr Shenton noted that the purpose of this consultation was to establish public opinion, demonstrating that the council “does care” and the issues highlighted by the nearly 1,000 responses will be taken “very seriously”. 

The council “don’t have a date” for when the full results of the consultation will be released but assured that a full planning application for the pitch is still “some way off”. 

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Maiden Erlegh School was chosen as the most suitable location for the new pitch following a “technical appraisal” based on the existing facilities including pitch, changing rooms, toilets, sufficient parking spaces and access to the site.    

Sarah Evershed suggested that the proposal would actually “increase pressure” on the access. 

Cllr Shenton highlighted that the pitch usage would be “limited” and congestion would be reduced by ensuring there is “no overlap” with the school operating hours. 

Concerns were also raised regarding the potential environmental impact, particularly in relation to micro-plastics, polluting of waterways, and the use of ‘rubber crumbs’ – which absorb impact to minimise the risk of injury. 

A “full drainage survey” would be carried out ahead of a full planning application being submitted to ensure the materials don’t enter the waters, Cllr Shenton said. 

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He also pointed to research by the European Chemicals Agency which states there is “no reason” to advise people against playing sport on synthetic turf containing recycled rubber granules – emphasising there is “no desire” to build 3G pitches if science says they are unsafe and assured residents that is “not the case”. 

Emily Thomas said it was “ludicrous” to build artificial pitches and questioned what happens to the pitches at the end of life. 

In response, Cllr Shenton said the Football Foundation – the UK’s largest sports charity – “supports and endorses” handling the pitches in accordance with waste regulations to ensure it is handled “in the most sustainable way”. 

The results of the public consultation are expected in due course before a determination is made.