The Wokingham Paper

Carnival Pool multi-storey plans look set to be approved on Wednesday

Artists Impression
A view from the north looking at the entrance to the new bowling alley. Picture: Wokingham Borough Council

CONTROVERSIAL plans to regenerate the Carnival Pool complex in Wokingham town centre move a step closer to being realised at a planning meeting on Wednesday.

Members of Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) planning committee will meet to discuss the detailed designs for a new 529-space multi-storey car park and bowling alley at a meeting on Wednesday. The plans are recommended for approval by officers.

The plans include additional leisure and commercial uses, apartments and a large extension to the leisure facility including a bigger gym, improved changing facilities and a multi-court indoor sports hall.

If approved, the proposals would also allow the hall to be converted into a large cultural and performance space.

Councillor Mark Ashwell, WBC’s deputy executive member for regeneration and communities, said: “We consulted on the types of facilities local people would like to see as part of this development and believe our proposals would help create a great leisure destination for Wokingham residents and visitors.

“With more houses being built on the edges of the town, and our plans for Peach Place which will bring a better mix and more variety of shops, these additional parking spaces would help meet the parking demands of motorists when visiting the town centre.”
But local groups have spoken out against the plans, claiming the five-storey car park would be a blot on the town’s skyline.

In June, The Wokingham Society lodged a formal response to the planning committee, claiming the five-storey structure would add an ‘unattractive intrusion’ to the landscape.

Chairman of the society, Peter Must said in the letter: “The Committee welcomes the concept of developing this location, but raises concerns about specific aspects.

“In particular, it is not persuaded that the multi-storey car park needs to be as large as is proposed, because the future estimates for off-road parking up to 2026 are both contradictory and incomplete. Reducing the height of this building would also remove an unsightly skyline as viewed from the south side of the town centre.”

If the plans are given the go-ahead, building work on the car park and bowling alley could begin in spring 2016, for completion by the end of the year.

The planning committee meeting will take place at the Civic Offices in Shute End on Wednesday from 7pm.

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