Wokingham Air Cadets could see base move to Norreys

A PLANNING application which could see a facility for Wokingham’s young people move from Carnival Pool to Norreys has been submitted.

The South East Reserve Forces Cadet Association (SERFCA), which has been based at the Wellington Road site for more than 20 years, submitted plans yesterday (Thursday) for a new facility in Elizabeth Park, in Norreys.

The application comes as SERFCA and Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) reached an agreement for a new building to be constructed on the council-owned land as a condition for the cadets being moved out of the current site.

The new building, which would replace the current derelict pavilion, would provide a combined facility for both the Army Cadet Force (ACF) and Air Training Corps (ATC) units.

Cllr Mark Ashwell, deputy executive member for regeneration and communities, said: “We are planning to build a large leisure centre at the Carnival Pool site, so we knew it would be difficult for the Cadets to remain on site as we want to provide them with the adequate space they deserve.

“However, we’re keen they remain in the town as they provide a fantastic service for Wokingham’s young people. We talked to SERFCA to look at alternative sites and we all agreed Elizabeth Park in Norreys was a great location. It’s close to the town centre and at the heart of an existing community with young people, who will be able to benefit from the Cadet’s relocation.”

The plans include the construction of a new pre-fabricated building which would be built in place of the existing derelict pavilion, which would be demolished as part of the initial works. The application would also see improvements to onsite parking with an additional three parking spaces, including one disabled space, and cycle parking.

The council and SERFCA have also liaised with Reeves Rangers FC, who currently use the site, and they have been assured that their activities will not be affected by the move.

To view the planning application visit www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-application/search-planning/applications and search for planing application number 150044.

One Comment

  1. The application makes a number of incorrect and misleading statements and has several omissions.

    An ATC Squadron can host up to 200 cadets. By deciding the access is sufficient for the current lower number there is absolutely no provision for a rise in numbers (for both services) which can reasonably be expected to follow the move to modern premises. The rise in profile and exposure that the cadets’ relocation will generate is likely to draw more members. Additionally the rise in population in the Wokingham area, facilitated by the regeneration and development currently in progress, will also generate extra membership.

    The majority of cadets DO NOT walk to the site. They are driven. There is no official mechanism to implement any form of car share agreement due to child protection guidelines. The ATC has no control over the method by which families choose to provide transport. A normal ATC parade night generates around 40 to 60 vehicle movements an evening.

    The noise of cadets calling out timings during drill practice is significant. It is supposed to be and it is an essential part of training cadets to perform a uniform response to a given order.

    There is absolutely no supporting data to support the assertion that the cadet forces will act as “natural surveillance against anti-social behaviour”. I would have thought CCTV over the area might provide better surveillance if that is a primary concern. It may be better to place the youth organisations in an area that does not require surveillance, natural or otherwise, against anti-social behaviour?

    There is no mention at all of the perimeter fence. The standard fencing used for cadet facilities is the 2.4m high metal palisade fence. This is of sufficient dimension to require planning permission in its own right.

    Although there is mention of a flagpole, there is no mention of the Air Cadets’ radio masts and antennas. Wokingham ATC are a leading Squadron in the country in the area of radio communications and will require masts and antennas for a variety of bands in order to continue to support cadets in this field. This includes cadets who have spent their own funds on furthering training in order to progress.

    There is absolutely no reason to place the Wokingham Cadet Centre in a residential area where it will generate complaints. Every cadet centre in Berkshire that is located in a residential area has restrictions placed on activities which means those units are unable to provide the full cadet experience.

    Fishponds Road has vacant land and is not residential. A far better location. The Elizabeth Park Pavillion should be used for sport and for the community it was built to support.

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