EXTRA parking is to be installed at the Henwick Worthy sports ground, but critics have branded the decision ‘a waste of money’.
West Berkshire Council approved its own plans to add 56 spaces at the busy sports ground, taking the number of spaces to 186.
The plans were submitted by the council and drawn up by the Henwick Worthy Joint Management Committee (JMC), comprised of Thatcham town and district councillors.
The additional parking spaces will be placed on grass currently used for overflow parking to the north of the existing car park.
However, nearby residents argued that spending developers’ contributions on the extra parking for no net gain was not good value for money. Concerns were also raised that the neighbouring area would be harmed because of increased noise levels.
In approving the plans, the district council said that extra vehicles using the site would not have a harmful impact on the area. It added that neighbouring amenity would not be lost as the site was “sufficiently distanced not to create a harmful impact upon living conditions of neighbouring occupants”.
Chair of Henwick JMC, Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham), said: “I think I can speak for the entire committee when I express my delight that planning has been approved. It is hoped that these improved parking facilities at this very popular sporting venue will provide easier access for all of the users across the whole of West Berkshire.”
But Henwick Lane resident, Socrates Solomides, said he despaired at the “wasteful decisions” of the council and JMC.
He said: “Clearly the council and the JMC do not understand that these plans do not actually provide any additional parking.
“They are merely plans to tarmac/concrete what is already an overflow car park.
“Obviously the JMC has several hundred thousand pounds spare and they cannot think of a better investment.
“Therefore as the JMC have more than adequate funding I would suggest that the council and rate payers stop making any further contributions to the Henwick Worthy Sporting facilities and spend their money on more worthwhile projects such as social care.
“The neighbouring amenity is already harmed and this car parking plan does nothing to alleviate noise levels and/or road congestion.”
The extra car parking is the first of three schemes planned for the sports ground.
West Berkshire Council has said that work on a BMX track in memory of Thatcham teenager Tom Slater will begin this summer, five years after his family started raising funds for the project. The track will be placed next to the Wyvale Garden Centre and was specifically chosen to ensure that residents will not be disturbed.
The JMC also wants to install a new artificial hockey pitch, half-funded through developer’s contributions and Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club funding.