PLANS to tarmac over part of the Henwick Worthy sports ground to provide additional formal parking spaces have been submitted.
West Berkshire Council, which owns the site, has submitted the plans in an effort to “reduce parking on Henwick Lane at the site’s peak times”.
If approved, an area of grass to the north of the existing car park would be tarmaced over and take the number of official parking spaces from 130 to 186, a 43 per cent increase.
The proposals came from the Henwick Worthy Joint Management Committee (JMC), made up of Thatcham town and district councillors.
Funding for the additional spaces has been secured through developers’ contributions from housing at Newbury Racecourse.
However, critics have said that the use does not represent value for money.
The increase to the parking area is being proposed alongside a new artificial hockey pitch, which would be half paid from the racecourse funds, with the other half coming from money raised by Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club.
Neighbours have raised concerns about increasing the demand for parking from the new pitch, without increasing the official amount of parking spaces.
One resident said: “The green area they propose to build these 56 additional spaces on is already used for overspill parking – so is a net zero gain.”
In response, the chairwoman of the Henwick JMC, Marigold Jaques (Con, Thatcham Central), said that a compromise had to be reached.
She added that the plans submitted represented the best option in terms of affordability, space available and differing opinion.
She said: “We felt we needed to do something to free up the parking, mainly for safety reasons and to assist residents by not having the road blocked up and hopefully the proposal will be supported.
“We have tried listening to everyone’s point of view and we believe the plans submitted are the best option.
“I think it’s the best compromise.
“I hope people will understand that we have tried to do the best for everyone.”
The JMC had also proposed installing a BMX track in memory of Thatcham teenager Tom Slater at the southern end of the field.
However, this was shelved because of flooding, while a proposal to have the track at the north of the field was met with opposition from residents.
But Mrs Jaques has now said that a proposal to place the track on another section of the site will be put forward at a meeting on to be held in Thatcham Town Council’s offices on December 19.
To view the plans enter 16/03218/FUL into West Berkshire Council’s planning website.
A decision is due from the district council by Friday, January 20, 2017.