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Elms Field tennis courts to be used as temporary car park

by Prue Bray on 24 February, 2016

If you see work going on next week to cut down 3-4 trees on the boundary between The Paddocks car park and Elms Field, please do not panic!  It isn’t work starting on the development of Elms Field!

So what IS happening?

You may know that Network Rail and Southwest Trains have decided to turn the car park at Wokingham station into a multi-storey.  Work is going to begin at the end of March.  Lots of commuters will have nowhere to park for about 4 months.

A little bit after the end of March, the council will be closing the Carnival Pool car park to turn that into a multi-storey as well.  Lots of people who use the pool will have nowhere to park for about 4 months.  A large number of council staff pay for permits to park at Carnival Pool for work, and they will have nowhere to go either.

The council has already made arrangements to smarten up the Elms Road multi-storey to encourage people to park there, particularly council staff.  They are also going to bring the old Wellington House car park into public use temporarily, to take people who would normally park at Carnival Pool. But that is not enough to accommodate everyone.

So, they are going to use the tennis courts on Elms Field as a temporary car park.  The courts will be fenced off. Access will be from The Paddocks car park. Council staff who have permits to park in The Paddocks for work will park on the tennis courts instead, leaving The Paddocks for the displaced commuters.

This requires planning permission, which the council has now applied for.  To get the access to the tennis courts from The Paddocks, they need to remove 3-4 trees.  They cannot cut trees down during the nesting season, which starts in March.  So they will cut the trees down next Monday.

I was briefed about this yesterday.  I was assured that all of the affected trees are Category C, so not good quality.  The council are extremely worried that people will think that cutting down the trees means building on Elms Field is starting.  It isn’t.  They don’t even have planning permission yet. The project is being run by the Hignways team.  Building on Elms Field is being run by the Regeneration team, who are not involved with the temporary car park.

Using the tennis court area for car parking for the next few months is not ideal, but both the council and Network Rail/Southwest Trains seem determined to push ahead with building multi-storey car parks and closing surface car parks at roughly the same time, so parking capacity does need to be created somehow.  In my opinion it is a better idea than putting grasscrete down on public open space and using that, which seemed to be the only other alternative.

If you have any questions about this, please do get in touch.

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