The Wokingham Paper

Angry walkers criticise new plans for Dinton at consultation

Residents reviewed the full plans at the consultation. Picture: Jess Warren

FRUSTRATED residents expressed their concerns about a new Dinton Pastures Activity Centre at the planning consultation last week. 

On Friday, November 15, residents were invited to share their views on the proposal for a new centre. 

The plans for a two-storey, energy-efficient building have caused anger among residents due to the modern, angular design. 

One resident at the consultation said: “It’s more suited to an industrial site. For a country park to have a design like that, it’s atrocious.”

The lead architect defended the design, saying that it was inspired by the River and Rowing Museum in Henley.

The building would include a concrete base due to the flood risk in the area. The red ‘chimneys’ on top of the building are wind funnels which will provide natural ventilation and reduce the energy demand of the building. Solar panels are also planned for the roof. 

Woodley resident, Tony Essex said: “I don’t like the look of the ventilation, they look like red funnels. But I understand the need for it to be updated. We need a good watersports venue to get the kids outdoors and off their iPads.

“What I am concerned about is the plans don’t show any provision for extra parking. 

I have a Wokingham Borough Country Parks season ticket, and I don’t want to see access restricted to the park.”

Local resident Ian Paine said did not approve of the plans. 

He said: “Why not put the £1.8 million into healthcare provision in the borough. The council should be spending the money on essential services. 

“That building looks like a breezeblock.”

Hurst resident, Jane Freeman who enjoys Dinton Pastures for walking, said: “The council have lost sight of Dinton as a public park.

“It seems to be far more about the events that happen here now. 

“There’s running events and Marvelous festival. I really think they’ve lost their way.”

“The council seem to forget that 80% of Dinton Pastures is in Hurst village. They very rarely consult Hurst on their plans. We are a rural village and we want to stay that way.

“All this new centre is going to do is increase numbers to the park, increase traffic on Sanford lane, and erode Dinton as a country park.”

One resident said that they have stopped using Dinton Pastures as it has become too commercial. 

“They’ve created an urban design for a rural setting,” they said. “They need to think more subtly if they have to build it at all.”

However, not all residents were against the plans. One local lady said: “I like the inclusion of disabled access. I think it’s going to look lovely. The swatches of the materials help bring it together.”  

The wood cladding on the first floor would be made from Siberian larch. Untreated, the warm-coloured wood will age to a natural grey. 

Andrew Glencross — the Wokingham Borough Council officer leading on the project — said: “The expansion of the activity centre is to help us resolve some safeguarding issues we are currently facing.

The plans propose separate changing rooms for men, women, girls and boys. This would provide more appropriate facilities for young school children using the lake.

“We have lots of school groups visit the activity centre, and we need to provide safe facilities for the children,” he added.

“We want to build a cafe overlooking the lake. The Dragonfly cafe is already at capacity, and this would provide another venue to enjoy tea and cake.”

If built, the cafe will be run by Baking Waves Ltd, which currently operates out of the Dragonfly Cafe. 

“The plans also include a first-floor office,” said Mr Glencross. “We have to be monitoring activity on the lake at all times and this will provide a better point for observation.”

Residents at the meeting were also concerned that the land previously used as a golf course would be affected. However, it was confirmed that there are no plans for section of the park.   

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