New sports amenities coming to Spencers Wood will help ‘mitigate the strain’ put on local facilities caused by housing developments, a councillor has said.  

Shinfield Parish Council’s plan to build a new Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) at Spencers Wood Recreation Ground, following the removal of the existing basketball court, has been given the go ahead. 

A member of the recreation and amenities committee, Cllr Edward Brown, says the council is trying to mitigate the “strain” put on local sporting facilities. He suggests that the local area will see “a population growth of 10,000 more people” due to new home developments.  

The site, located on Clares Green Road, will consist of relocated exercise equipment and a tarmac-surfaced sports play area catering for five-a-side football, basketball, and mini tennis – which will be enclosed by a three metre high fence, primarily to retain play. 

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The plans have received mixed reviews from residents, with those in support saying they are “looking forward” to making use of the facilities, suggesting the play area will be a “really popular addition” to the community for many years to come. 

However, some neighbours who live adjacent to the site complained of an “increasing amount” of noise and anti-social behaviour. 

“The proposed plans move the exercise area closer to the residential boundary and also generate additional seating close to the residential boundary.  

“As it is these areas that the youths will tend to use, the noise nuisance will increase as a result,” one said. 

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Cllr Brown disputes this by highlighting that the MUGA will be located further away from houses so the complaints “will stop”. 

He also points to the installation of the wire mesh fencing enclosing the MUGA, which he says is constructed using a method that “dampens sound” to reduce “fence rattling”. 

In 2018, meetings were held in the Village Hall where the public were invited to put forward suggestions for improvements to local facilities. Residents expressed that Sport and Recreation, Keep Fit, and Youth Work were among the top priorities. 

A poll was then conducted in 2021, after a delay caused by the pandemic, to determine what facilities residents think would benefit the Recreation Ground. 

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It received 77 individual responses, with 24 of those identified items such as a Community Garden, picnic benches and a cafe, whilst 53 suggested a variety of sporting facilities – mainly for the benefit of children aged 14 and over. 

A working party was subsequently set up, which concluded that the public’s needs would be best met by the installation of an open-air all-weather gym and a MUGA. 

Cllr Philip Emment explains the new equipment is an “essential part” of the council’s plan to improve facilities for young people in the parish. With recent new housing developments, he says the demand for youth facilities has “increased enormously” since the pandemic.