Sonning Common's Exciting New Facilities
Now that the diggers have moved onto Memorial Hall Field on Reade’s Lane the dream of providing a much-needed sports and recreation park for the village is becoming a reality.
By July the contractors will have constructed a 60m x 40m multi use games area (MUGA), flat playing field, a wide perimeter path for exercising along with new landscaping and fencing.
As funds allow the MUGA will be developed for a range of sport and activities which could include basketball, netball, hockey and outdoor fitness. A children’s play area is planned along with facilities for teenagers. In future, it is hoped to provide a community building for people to play sport, socialise and enjoy a range of activities.
The dream is to turn the former agricultural field, opposite Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge School, into a thriving community hub with facilities and activities to suit all ages, interests and abilities.
Memorial Hall Field is owned by Sonning Common Parish Council. The 4.1-hectare site was gifted to the community as part of an agreement to develop new housing on the adjacent field, Sonning Grove, through the 2016 Neighbourhood Development Plan.
Over the past four years a project team – consisting of councillors and volunteers – has worked hard to secure the transfer of the land to the Parish Council and planning permission for the ground works, now underway. A planning application for lighting the MUGA and perimeter path is currently being considered.
The £519,000 cost of the ground works is being met by contributions from housing developers while future facilities will be funded by grants and parish contributions.
The transformation of a former agricultural field into what is hoped will become a thriving community hub for sport and recreation started on Monday 22nd March.
Sonning Common Parish Council approved a £519,000 contract earlier this week for ground works to begin at Memorial Hall Field, off Reade’s Lane.
Phase one of the work will involve the levelling and shaping of the 4.1 hectare site to create flat playing areas, a wide perimeter path, multi-use games area (MUGA), fencing and landscaping.
Eventually it is hoped to develop a community sports pavilion, play and picnic areas at the field, which is opposite the Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge secondary school and within a short walk of the village centre.
Plans for the site evolved after an initial public consultation in 2018. Further community research is planned to establish which sport and recreational facilities residents would use at the site. Basketball, netball, volleyball, hockey and outdoor fitness could be among the activities offered along with parkour, climbing and possibly a zip wire.
The site was gifted to the Parish Council as part of an agreement to allocate the adjacent field for a new 50 home development, Sonning Grove, through the 2016 Neighbourhood Development Plan. A £266,000 contribution towards the phase one works came from the developer of Sonning Grove with the remaining costs also covered by development levies.
There is currently a recognised deficit of sport and recreational provision in expanding Sonning Common which has around 1,800 homes and a population of about 4,300. The new facilities, designed to suit all ages, would also serve residents in the wider locality.
The four-year project to develop the field has been driven by the Memorial Hall Field Working Party, made up of councillors and residents. So far, the group has achieved the transfer of the land to the Parish Council, drawn up plans for the development of the new recreation space and secured planning permission for the
groundworks plus an access from Reade’s Lane.
Carole Lewis, chairman of Sonning Common Parish Council, said: “The Parish Council is extremely pleased to report that work is about to start on this land. It will create a unique recreational and sporting space for the benefit of the residents of Sonning Common and the surrounding area. It recognises the hard work of the
working party involved and we thank them for all their efforts.”
Chair of the working group, resident Diana Pearman said: “We are truly delighted to see our four years of work come to fruition with the start of the groundworks in this first phase of development. Many, many hours have been devoted by dedicated members for us to reach this moment. This will become the active hub of our
community for people of all ages to enjoy.”