Proposals to transform play at Prospect Park

We have ambitious plans to boost the play facilities we offer at Prospect Park. We think our ideas are exciting and we hope you do too.

In a part of the pavilion building in the centre of the park we would like to invest over £500k to build a new multi-use community hub and activity centre which could become a new destination for activities, entertainment and learning for families and children from across Reading.

You can find more detailed information and designs for the external aspects of the project below. You can also view and comment on the proposals using our planning applications website – planning reference number 210647

Issues accessing planning applications

We are encouraging people to feedback on the proposals via the planning process. The application will go before Planning Committee for approval in the summer and the ambition is for the construction to start on site late summer/early autumn 2021.

Prospect Park Play Transformation

Our hope is to drive up participation in outdoor and active play by offering fantastic new facilities including:

  • outdoor family adventure mini-golf
  • an indoor ‘Sky Tykes’ low ropes course for younger children age 7 and under
  • a café facility with indoor and outdoor seating
  • new toilet facilities (including an accessible changing places facility)
  • an outdoor education area that will also support Reading Play’s educational outreach work which includes using play as a tool to improve particularly vulnerable young people’s social skills and wellbeing

View the draft mini-golf designs, elevation and layout here:

Prospect Park Play Transformation

The family 9-hole mini-golf will be designed to allow for wheelchair access and would be able to provide specialist accessible putting equipment so that everyone can join in the fun. 

Mini golf course design featuring mini models of the town hall and the Blade.

A new café and toilet facilities would complement the activities at the centre,

as well as a multi-function room for parties, meetings and teaching, including those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or excluded from mainstream education.

Concept images for inside low ropes activity
Concept images for inside low ropes activity

Above: Concept images for inside low ropes activity.

Young boy on a Skytrail low rope course

Watch a video here that gives a great taster of what to expect from the rope activity.

Educational Outreach

The pavilion is already the home of our highly regarded and popular Play Service, and the new centre would also provide an outdoor enclosed education zone to support the team’s outreach programmes, including a portable climbing wall and team building activities, such as den and fire building, archery, adventurous play, assault course, an outdoor class room and much more.

The improvement of play facilities here will provide valuable extended provision for vulnerable and SEND children at a fun, safe and welcoming environment; enabling children and young people to explore and learn skills and participate in outdoor activities and enabling social growth and physical development. 

About Reading Play

Reading Play encourage learning opportunities and social experiences for children age 0-13 years through play. Children’s lives are enhanced by playing creatively, allowing for learning and development as individuals. We view play as a critical mechanism in supporting a child’s behaviour, educational resilience and confidence.

This would allow us to target our work with children and young people by providing alternative learning experiences for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and activities aimed at reducing school exclusions and their impact. We will invest income from the public activities into our targeted services offered to vulnerable children both on site and in school.

Some of the targeted educational support our team provides:

  • Supporting young people with independence, development and educational attainment
  • Playground games and sport to encourage physical activity
  • Transition support – into new schools/classrooms
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support in Schools
  • Running out of school play-based learning programmes for children and young people who have no educational placement
  • School travel training service
  • Short Breaks
  • Respite provision – young carers
  • Mentoring young people through play.

When will the project start?

We aim to submit a planning application for this project in late April, with the application going before Planning Committee for approval in the summer. We will promote the planning application on this page once it is available to the public to comment on as part of the planning process.

We anticipate construction beginning in the late summer, however, this timescale may be subject to change, given the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. The pavilion is currently being used as a Covid-19 testing centre and timescale for the testing centre is at present, unknown. 

You can read the full committee report on the project here.

Will there be a charge for these facilities?

There will be a modest admission charge for the mini golf, the adventure ropes and the climbing wall facility. Charges will be set in line with other similar facilities in Berkshire. The income generated will go towards delivering activities targeted at supporting vulnerable children across the borough, including offering respite support or alternative education.

Will the facilities be accessible?

The café will be fully accessible, with an internal platform lift where there is a change in floor level. Accessible toilet facilities will also be available. The mini-golf has been designed to be accessible for a broad range of abilities.

The ropes course, along with some outward-bound activities require a level of physical dexterity but may be accessed with the aid of a helper.

Will there be an impact on the park’s natural environment?

The environmental impact of this development is limited. An overgrown Leylandii hedge will be thinned to create routes through and space underneath. Some old fencing under the hedge will also be removed and native hedging helped to establish just outside the hedge line reinforced with fencing to keep the area secure.

The small area immediately in front of the building will be re-landscaped to provide the outdoor café seating area and new mini-golf space. The trees at the front of the building will be remain.

How is this project funded?

The project is being funded from money secured via Section 106 agreements and from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)– which are both contributions developers make towards local facilities.

Will the football changing facilities still be available?

Yes, the football changing facilities will still be available. These facilities are unaffected by this development. We are not intending to change these facilities as the new play service will operate out of the pavilion end closest to the car park.

What other improvements are happening at Prospect Park?

We also have plans to invest in the park’s playground area. We have prioritised the playground as urgently needing improvements, particularly accessible equipment for children of all abilities. View details on the proposed new play area improvements here.

How can I get in touch?

To find out more details on the above plans and to tell us what you think, including letting us know about any questions or concerns you might have, please email reading.play@reading.gov.uk