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Memorial BMX track at Thatcham's Henwick Worthy to be shelved

Plans for new parking area and siting of hockey pitch also meet with opposition

Memorial BMX track at Thatcham's Henwick Worthy to be shelved

PROPOSALS for a memorial BMX track at the Henwick Worthy sports ground will not go ahead; and residents have raised concerns over further expansion plans.

Proposals were put forward in April to create an additional 60 parking spaces at the busy sports ground.

A BMX track in memory of Thatcham teenager Tom Slater and a new artificial hockey pitch were also in the pipeline. 

The proposals came from the Henwick Worthy Joint Management Committee (JMC), made up of Thatcham town and district councillors.

A consultation with residents revealed concerns that anti-social behaviour near the play area would increase if a BMX track went in, while space used for mini-rugby training would be removed.

Speaking about the track at a town council meeting on Monday, JMC chairwoman Marigold Jaques said: “While we know it’s a sport and it does have a lot of support in the community, on balance, listening to residents’ concerns, we felt it should not be sited at the top of the field.”

Mrs Jaques said that installing the track on the south of the field had fallen through because of flooding.

But she added that there were alternative sites in the town that could host the track and the town council will explore the options.

Town councillors agreed in principle to extra car parking, which would be built over the current overfill site to the north of the existing car park.

However, residents have said that the proposal has not been thought through.

Henwick Lane resident Marcus Benson said: “The fact is, it does not increase the net amount of parking  – it simply tarmacs over one of the green, existing overspill parking areas at a cost of nearly £200k.

“Is this really prudent use of public money?”

Funding for the additional spaces has been secured through developers’ contributions from housing at Newbury Racecourse.

The contributions will also be used to part-fund the new artificial pitch, with Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club making up the difference.

Residents feel that the noise and light pollution from the new pitch could cause nuisance, something which is forbidden under the lease agreement.

They instead want to see the proposed pitch moved from the north of the site, replacing the existing tennis courts, and next to the existing pitch to the west of the site.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Mrs Jaques conceded that the concerns about noise pollution were justified. She added that a noise dampening system had been installed on the existing pitch.

Thatcham town councillor and deputy chairman of the JMC, Nathan Gregory (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) said that West Berkshire Council’s swiftness in dealing with the concerns demonstrated good faith towards the project.

Town and district councillor Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) said there was a need for a second pitch, something which residents dispute.

Mrs Ellison’s optimism over the new pitch, seeing a variety of sports played on it, was lost when she was told that the pitch would be for the exclusive use of the hockey club.

Speaking after the meeting, resident Peter McGurk said he was disappointed with the lack of discussion over the proposals.

Mr McGurk said that a storm would be coming as there were a lot of people angered by the proposals.

The proposals will need to be ratified by the JMC and West Berkshire Council and then followed by planning applications.

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