Thursday, 5 April 2012

Improved Southcote Community Centre Set to be Confirmed

Plans to improve facilities for local residents at Southcote Community Centre are set to be given the go-ahead at a meeting of the Reading Borough Council's Cabinet later this month.

If approved the centre, on Coronation Square, will be re-modelled, re-decorated and refurbished inside and out and fitted with improved IT facilities to create a much improved space for both young and old.

The Cabinet report is the culmination of a year's worth of consultation with the community after local residents in Southcote consistently called for improved facilities in the area. One public meeting, two neighbourhoods events and three drop-in sessions later, proposals have been shaped by the local community itself and will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Monday April 16.

Key improvements planned for Southcote Community Centre include:

" Remodelling of the lounge area and computer room to incorporate a new flexible space
" Incorporating a wireless internet provision enabling the new multi purpose room to be both an IT classroom and flexible community space
" Refurbishing all toilet areas and the kitchen
" An overall redecoration of community areas and replacement of furniture and IT equipment

Other improvements will include a new front entrance with improved security, better acoustics in the hall itself, and the re-surfacing of the outside of the building to make it more environmentally friendly.

Rachel Eden, Reading's Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods, said: "The community in Southcote has been working towards improved community facilities in their neighbourhood not just for the last few months but for years and delivering on this will make a real difference to the neighbourhood. These proposals have been made by the local community working with the council and I am very pleased that they are now coming to cabinet for approval."

Local residents in Southcote have consistently called for improved facilities in the area to cater for all age groups. A significant breakthrough was made last Autumn when the Council announced community facilities in Southcote could receive a significant boost if proposals for the possible redevelopment of the former Happy Prospect pub site were given the go-ahead.

The Happy Prospect pub was demolished in early 2011. On 31st October 2011, Reading Borough Council's Cabinet approved a £280,000 social housing grant for a 16-unit affordable housing scheme, and on 9th November a planning application for the 16-unit scheme was approved by the Planning Applications Committee subject to the completion of a legal agreement. The legal agreement secures a contribution towards enhancing existing community facilities in order to mitigate the loss of the former pub use on the site. Planning permission was granted on 7th March 2012 .

The next stage is for proposals for improved community facilities to go to a meeting of Reading Borough Council's Cabinet which takes place at the Civic Centre on Monday April 16 from 6.30pm. If approved work will start over the summer with the aim of it being completed by September this year.

Reading Borough Council is also looking for people to be part of a steering group which will help run the centre and take the plans forward. If residents cannot commit to a formal role, lots of volunteers are also needed to help run activities and groups at times throughout the week and weekend, even if it is just for a few hours. Residents interested in volunteering some of their time should contact Chris Bloomfield, Neighbourhood Regeneration Officer on chris.bloomfield@reading.gov.uk or by calling 0118 937 2176.