Response to WBC Consultation on a Football Pitch in Manor Park

Manor Park Playing Field

West Berkshire Council are currently carrying out a consultation on their plans to add a football pitch and associated infrastructure to the field on the corner of Stoney Lane and Waller Drive. Cold Ash Parish Council objects to this proposal. Our reasons for objecting to this proposal are:

  • This is a peaceful green idyll used by local residents. It is used for walks, picnics, dog meet-ups and for children’s games. Adding a football pitch and associated infrastructure would completely change the nature of the field. Yes, residents will still be able to access the edge of the field when football games are in play, but it won’t have the same sense of peace and tranquility that is available now.
  • The works to level the pitch and improve the drainage will change the look and feel of the area and will no doubt have an effect on the wildlife that calls this park home. We note that there are no detailed proposals about how the levelling will be implemented.
  • The field acts as a sustainable drainage system protecting Manor Park residents from flooding. There is a risk that the levelling and drainage infrastructure could affect this flood protection.
  • There are already big changes planned for this park with the Coley Farm development. This already risks changing the quiet and peaceful nature of this park. WBC have not presented any plans as to how the proposed pitch and infrastructure will fit in with the already proposed changes.
  • Football matches are not quiet affairs. The whistles and shouting will undoubtedly be a noise nuisance to those in the neighbouring properties.
  • The building of a toilet block will have an urbanising effect on the field and will no doubt be the focus of anti-social behaviour outside of football hours. Residents will have to look at the building all week, while it will only be in use for 6 hours a week.
  • The expansion of the car park will be unsightly, especially when 40 cars are parked there on match days. The car park will certainly overflow, resulting in parking on neighbouring roads.
  • The use of the football pitch will be from residents living across the whole of West Berkshire. They will all be travelling by car which will cause extra traffic and nuisance for neighbouring residents.
  • The Cold Ash Neighbourhood Development Plan is intending to allocate this area as Local Green Space (LGS).  The proposed infrastructure changes are incompatible with this designation.
  • We are concerned about mission-creep. Will the facilities here be expanded in the future?
  • What is being proposed is a district-wide facility. Choosing to place it in the middle of a housing development on the northern boundary of Newbury is not appropriate.

Cold Ash Parish Council asks WBC to answer the following questions:

  • What other sites were considered for this football pitch and why were they rejected?
  • There must be over a hundred school football pitches across West Berkshire that have the associated infrastructure already. Most of these are vacant at weekends. Why are these not being considered for use?
  • We understand the reason a football pitch is required is because of having to vacate the field at Newbury Rugby Club. Why is this not mentioned in the consultation documentation?
  • We have separately asked to see a copy of the Sports Turf Research Institute feasibility study into a pitch at Manor Park.
  • We now understand that WBC has been investigating the use of this field for many months. Why were CAPC not consulted or given advance notice of these plans?
  • Why are WBC making misleading posts on Facebook with regards to this consultation? The following statements seem to imply that only after this proposal is approved will the field be available for “kick arounds” and picnics. As you know, these are all available now and not conditional on this scheme going ahead.

We have identified an area where we would like to put a new sports pitch.  This field will then be available for children to meet friends and arrange a “kick around”, dog walkers, picnickers, local teams who want a training area etc for the rest of the time. It is really important we hear from the children and families that might benefit from using it.

WBC Facebook Post 24/5/22

In summary, CAPC finds this site wholly unsuited for a district wide football pitch facility and asks WBC to propose an alternative location.