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Sunday, 9 August 2020

MPF: Update from Reading BC officers

 A diligent officer sent out the following update about Mapledurham Playing Fields' pitches, the landscaping works and the Pavilion, yesterday (Saturday 8 July). 

The news our community has been eager to hear about is the coming down of the fences to open up the  newly levelled and grassed pitches on the eastern side of MPF. The good news is we shouldn't have to wait long. Monday 24 August is the likely date, though this is dependent on weather conditions.

In other news the central footpath along the desire line walking/running/cycling across MPF from the Pavilion to the entrance on Chazey Road will start later this week. It'll further improve accessibility for all and with the avenue of trees that will be planted along it in the tree planting season, this landscaping will be an attractive and eye-catching feature.

Here is the officer's update:

Thinner stretches of grass visible along drainage lines

Sports pitch works

The new grass sports turf is steadily growing, has been cut several times and is regularly assessed by an independent expert. The area around the play area has been be re-opened for recreational use with the heras fencing adjusted to allow access on the west and south sides of the play area.

 

The main area of new turf is starting to become established in most areas but the grass along the new drain lines is vulnerable to dogs digging and could be damaged by some activities such as informal kickabouts. See the photos to show the differences in the growth of areas of grass. We are hoping that the grass will become more established over the next few weeks.

 

We are looking to remove the fence around the boundary from Monday 24th August to allow access for recreational use. However, if the area becomes damaged in large parts by dogs digging or over use then we may need to re-instate the fencing across the area to protect it. We ask that playing sports eg football is kept to the west side of the playing fields, next to the new play area and will install some goals to encourage use on this area.

 

Other Landscape works

We will be starting work on the central footpath on Thursday 13th August. This will involve moving the heras fence line running north to south to enable the path to be installed. The contractor will form a small compound adjacent to the pavilion works to avoid materials being stored on the playing fields and will maintain access to the popular new play area. Works will continue throughout August and September to install the new path and benches and then the new footpath lighting before the autumn wet weather sets in. In November we aim to plant the avenue of new trees.

 

Pavilion improvement works

AYM are making good progress with the new side extension now taking shape, and new roofs and external cladding being installed. Work will then mainly be inside installing new heating and electrics. The internal fit out and decoration will follow as we aim to complete the works by late October.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

A look inside Mapledurham Pavilion

I was thrilled to check out the progress of the comprehensive refurbishment of Mapledurham Pavilion in July.

View east across the hall, entrance from car park RH corner
The photo to the left shows the main hall. It remains the same size, though without the walls and ceilings in place the wood gives the allusion of a smaller space.  The main entrance from the car park is in the far right corner (to the right of the propped-up orange door). 

Straight ahead are the spaces where two mirror image FA standard football changing rooms are being created. This is a conversion of the old storage rooms and kitchen, as well as a small extension. Access will only be from the western side of the Pavilion through an exterior door to each one, with a wall between them and the hall. 

On the left hand side of the photo you can see the steels - the sole remaining feature from the Warren & District Residents Association's (WADRA) refurbishment in 2019. These gaps will have glazed doors with exterior security shutters. It will be fabulous to have the views across the playing fields restored and improved after over 20 years! Back when my two were little and I ran the parent and toddler group 'Escape', the council boarded up the old, rotting windows following several broken windows.  

New flooring will be going down as there was asbestos under the lino that was laid in 2019. The Football and Tennis clubs both agreed with me that it was sensible to eradicate the asbestos at this opportune time rather than store up problems for the future.

New kitchen
The photo to the left shows the space where the new kitchen will be. You can see that two large serving hatches are being created - one for serving the main hall, the other - which will have security shutters - for serving events on the playing fields.
 
The kitchen is a much more generous size than the old one and also benefits from having two doorways. These improvements should make it fit for catering for large events.

WADRA is paying for kitting the kitchen out with appliances using money fundraised (from residents and Festival Republic's donations).

Storage room off hall
In the hall's north-east corner is a door to what will be a large storage room for the hall's regular user groups (see right).

Widened, reconfigured corridor
Next to the storage room will be a door to a widened, reconfigured corridor giving access to the kitchen, the men's/women's/and accessible loos and the Tennis Club's room.

The corridor also leads to the old changing rooms which are being converted into two rooms available for hire for meetings or other small events. 

Two large windows have been made in the wall facing out onto the car park, transforming the dark cramped old changing rooms into inviting, light spaces. 


View into new meeting room
You can see into the first one in the photo to the left (viewed from the corridor with the doorway to it straight ahead and at the far end of the room the two large windows).

According to the council officers - who have been doing an excellent job overseeing the project - the works should be finished ready for the Pavilion to re-open this October. Hopefully by then covid-19 restrictions will have eased further and the user groups and others in our community will be able to make full use of it.

The improvements have been funded predominantly by Department for Education money paid to the council (Trustee of Mapledurham Playing Fields) as part of the legal agreement for building The Heights School. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Update on Mapledurham Playing Fields

The new grass on the eastern side of Mapledurham Playing Fields' pitches is looking very good! 

The contractors, Agripower, have cut the grass several times now and added feed to help strengthen it. I was keen to take the opportunity in July to inspect it with officers. I took this short video standing in the middle which hopefully gives you a good view.

I'm as keen as anybody to get the fences down so that everyone can enjoy the space and new grass - however for a number of reasons, sensibly officers have held off. 

As can be seen in the photo to the right, there are lines where the grass is thinner - this is above the drainage channels as it is taking a little longer for the grass to establish as a result.

Another reason for the reluctance is that vehicles would need to drive on the new grass so it must be able to withstand this, otherwise the huge investment (funded by part of the developer contribution monies from the DfE) could be put at risk.

I hope to be able to have a better idea when the fences will be coming down later this week. 

Monday, 20 July 2020

Reading Bridge re-opens early and creation of more cycle lanes

Reading Borough Council published the press release below Monday 20 July. It details new temporary cycle lanes being put in to create more space for residents wishing to socially distance while fewer choose to travel on public transport.

I've highlighted in yellow the paragraphs relating to Reading Bridge and Caversham as these may be of particular interest.

WORK begins this week to roll out the next phase of new cycle lanes in Reading to make travelling by bike easier in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

Road markings for new cycle lanes will be put in place along the Oxford Road – from Norcot Road to the edge of the borough boundary to the west – Southampton Street, Silver Street, Mount Pleasant and Whitley Street. The new cycle lanes are expected to be open for use by cyclists by the end of July. Plans for a brand new cycle scheme along Redlands Road is also in the final stages of development and expected to be implemented in early August.

 

The raft of temporary new cycle lanes form part of Reading Borough Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic, and is in line with the Government’s Active Travel programme. With social distancing measures likely to remain in place for some considerable time, the Council has moved to design a series of schemes to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists, which recognises the on-going restrictions on the capacity of local public transport.

 

The Council quickly implemented temporary signs and markings throughout the town centre, reminding visitors about the need to socially distance. Similar measures are a being rolled out to other busy local centres across the town.

 

Temporary, advisory cycle lanes have also been implemented across Reading Bridge to provide an additional cycle link across the Thames by removing one lane of traffic. While Reading Bridge closed in late June for Southern Gas Networks (SGN) to replace two gas pipes, it re-opened again three weeks ahead of schedule yesterday (19th July). This means both northbound and southbound cycle lanes have now been reinstated and are fully operational.

 

With Reading Bridge re-opening three weeks ahead of schedule, it means that the introduction of the previously announced new temporary one way systems along Gosbrook Road (Westfield Road to Prospect Street), and Westfield Road (Henley Road junction to Gosbrook Road), to increase capacity for walking and cycling, and with segregated new cycle facilities, can go live next week.

 

A new one way system at Sidmouth Street – with the introduction of a segregated new two-way cycle lane – is expected to become operational by the end of July. The introduction of this scheme was delayed due to difficulties sourcing the necessary equipment, arising from the heavy demands from scores of local authorities across the country all introducing active travel schemes at the same time:

 

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

 

“The introduction of these new advisory cycle lanes forms part of the Council’s response to on-going social distancing guidelines, and the reduced capacity on public transport, which means it is essential we create more space for people to walk and cycle safely.

 

“As with the previously announced schemes on Reading Bridge, Gosbrook and Westfield Roads and Sidmouth Street, it is important to note these are temporary schemes which may be made permanent at a later stage, once we see how well they operate and only after detailed public consultation.

 

“The re opening of Reading Bridge three weeks early, following work to replace two gas mains by SGN, means we can now get on with implementing the new one way system and segregated cycle lanes on Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road. We hope this will be fully operational by the end of the month, in addition to the dedicated new cycle lanes in Sidmouth Street.”

 

Reading Borough Council is developing a dedicated new webpage as a point of information for all of the Council’s Active Travel schemes. This will go live in the coming days and can be found at www.reading.gov.uk/activetravel

Friday, 26 June 2020

Reading Bridge closure on 29 June for 6 weeks

Urgent gas mains replacement – Reading Bridge, George Street

Bridge closure: from Monday 29 June for approximately six weeks

 

 

A message from SGN:

"Firstly, please accept our apologies for such short notification of the work outlined below.  Following the tragic events in Reading last weekend, we were requested to hold on sending out wider communications until now.   

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Reading.

 

"As I’m sure you are already be aware, SGN have been given the approval to commence urgent work to replace two strategic gas mains on George Street/Reading Bridge.   The gas mains being replaced are mandatory gas pipes that supply Reading and Caversham and have a priority rating to be replaced.  We will be replacing the old metal gas pipes with a new plastic pipes that will ensure we can continue to provide gas safely and efficiently to the local area long into the future.  Their replacement will also significantly reduce the risk of future leaks resulting in disruptive emergency works and potential unplanned closures of Reading Bridge.

 

"You may recall we attempted to replace one of the gas mains across the bridge last year, following further on-site investigation and discovering there was a potential of losing local gas supplies, our project team immediately stopped work, sending the project back to our network specialist teams to be re-engineered.   Following their direction, we will be now be replacing both mains to ensure we can maintain the network integrity and supply for the community.  

 

"Work on the bridge will start on Monday 29 June for approximately six weeks, with the closure in place for the duration. There will be no vehicle access across Reading Bridge, access to George Street will be from the north side of the bridge via the B3345 and a signed diversion will be in place.

 

"Access across the bridge will be maintained for pedestrians and cyclists.  To support social distancing guidelines, there will be two pedestrian walkways and two cycle paths across the bridge.  Each pathway/cycleway will be clearly signposted with the direction of traffic flow.  

 

"We appreciate this work will be disruptive for road users at a crucial time for the town returning to some normality following COVID 19 lockdown.     You may also question why this work couldn’t have taken place sooner during the full lockdown.  Like all organisations SGN have been following Government guidelines and only returning to planned works when advised it is safe to do so for the public and our engineers.  To protect our workforce and operational teams, SGN have only continued with emergency work during the lockdown.

 

"At the request of the local authority, we have resourced this project to bring forward these works to allow at least some of work to be carried out whilst the road networks are still quieter than normal.  It is also vital that we carry out this work during the summer months to ensure we can maintain network reliability.  Carrying this work out in cooler months would put significant pressure on the gas network and local supplies to Reading and Caversham.  

 

"I would like to reassure you, SGN are working closely with UK Government and public health bodies to make sure we carry out our project in line with all current coronavirus safety guidance. We have no plans to interrupt gas supplies to homes or businesses, and our engineers won’t be calling at residents’ homes other than in the case of an emergency where strict social distancing measures will be adhered to.

 

"We have extra safety precautions in place to protect our colleagues and our communities from the virus. Our colleagues will be keeping to social distancing guidelines on our sites and we’d ask communities to keep their distance too. There’s more information about our coronavirus response on our website: www.sgn.co.uk/coronavirus

 

"We will be working a seven-day week with support from additional teams. Due to local environmental restrictions, night-time works will be kept to a minimum and only when necessary. We would like to reassure you that our engineers will be working as quickly and as safely as possible to complete this work without delay.

 

"If you’d like to get in touch with us about this project, please call our Customer Service team on 0800 912 1700 who will be happy to direct your enquiry. There’s more information about our coronavirus plans, as well as other ways to contact us, on our website: sgn.co.uk/coronavirus."

 

sgn.co.uk

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