Wokingham Borough residnts are set to benefit from investment into football facilities at Cantley Park, after Wokingham Borough Council successfully bid for a £616,619 grant from the Premier League, The FA, and the government’s Football Foundation.
The Conservative-led borough council will be investing more than £1.6million to enhance residents’ facilities at Cantley Park, bringing significant benefits to the park’s large number of users including those who use the park for sport and relaxation as well as individuals and families.
A brand new state-of-the-art 3G artificial pitch with floodlights will be installed, and the existing pavilion will be refurbished to provide new changing facilities, a viewing balcony and café. Other enhancements will include improvements to the current grass pitches.
An additional 39 parking spaces, bringing the total to 164, will be provided and will include four larger spaces to accommodate minibuses. This will help alleviate parking issues on the site and in neighbouring residential areas. Four electric vehicle charging points will also be installed. The artificial sand-dressed pitch and 12 tennis courts will be unaffected by these works.
Work is set to start in January 2021 and will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will see the 3G pitch installed, and pavilion and parking upgraded; while the second phase see will improvements to the other existing grass pitches.
In recent years, Wokingham has seen a rise in the number of football teams and there are currently some 534 active teams across the borough. Growing demand and participation means more training facilities are required locally.To meet this demand an additional nine 3G pitches are needed for those local teams still travelling outside of the borough to use football pitches and winter training facilities. Cantley Park would be the fifth 3G pitch built in the borough.
“It’s fantastic news we’ve been awarded a Football Foundation grant for our enhancement project at Cantley Park, and we’re very grateful for their support,” Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure. “This grant will give our local footballers the chance to play football each week at improved facilities. It will also mean they no longer have to travel outside the borough for matches or training, which is crucial if we want to tackle the climate emergency.
“Cantley is a very popular and well-used park. It’s not just a place for football but also home to hockey, cricket, archery and tennis, to name just a few. It’s loved by many who spend time there exercising, walking the dog or meeting friends.”
Robert Sullivan, interim chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “We know the huge benefits playing regular football can have on individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country. It’s therefore very welcome to hear this funding will support Wokingham Borough Council in developing Cantley Park.
“Working with our partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England – we’ll be investing in more than £1bn worth of local facilities across the country during the next decade. We believe we can transform lives and strengthen communities by unlocking the power of pitches and this is another project that brings us closer to that ultimate goal.”
The Football Foundation is the UK’s largest sports charity and works to improve the experience of playing football for everyone by championing fair access to quality facilities.
Photo shows: Former professional footballer Stephen Hughes (left), Cllr Parry Batth, Shinfield North borough councillor and executive member for environment and leisure (centre) and Graham Ebers, deputy chief executive and director of resources and assets (right)