A COMMUNITY centre “promised” for homeowners at a new estate in Wokingham will be a “completely empty shell”.

Space underneath flats set to be handed over by developers of the Montague Park estate is said to have no floors, toilets or heating, leaving neighbours without a working community area. 

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Rachel Bishop-Firth, a Liberal Democrats councillor for Emmbrook, told the News a church group alerted her to the empty space at a town hall meeting. 

She said: “Our jaws were on the floor - the community was promised a community centre. 

“It seems more like an empty shop unit, there is nothing in there.”

The church group is said to be looking into how this space can be turned into a community facility, but it is estimated around a quarter of a million pounds would be needed to furnish the centre. 

Cllr Bishop-Firth continued: “It is underneath flats so can’t have noisy parties there - you could have yoga classes and parent and toddler groups, but they’re not going to generate the income to keep it open. 

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“We may even need to look at this as something other than a community centre - is it suitable for a community centre or would it make better use as something such as a gym?”

At a Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) meeting on Thursday, (September 19), Cllr Pauline Jorgensen was quizzed by residents about the Montague Park development, after they told her of problems with road crossings and other infrastructure. 

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She said there was originally no requirement for a community facility north of the railway line, but WBC secured a small space for the community funded by developers. 

However, developers had no obligation to fund the fitting-out of the facility and the council is continuing to address how to fund this.

The new community facility, which currently remains in private ownership as developer David Wilson Homes has not completed work “to an adoptable standard”, is expected to handed over to WBC in summer 2020. 

Cllr Parry Batth was set to respond to a similar question from Cllr Bishop-Firth later in the meeting, but member questions were cut short.

The former’s response would have concluded: “As with all community facilities provided by the council, we would want them to be flexible and adaptable spaces that are able to be accessed by the local community for a wide variety of uses. 

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“The Council does not want this facility to stand empty or go unused, and we are committed to finding a solution to making it operational before it is handed over to the council next year.”