Park rescued from decline by plan to relocate Reading FC's training ground

A training campus for Reading Football Club will be created on the historic 49-hectare Grade II*-listed Bearwood Park Estate, removing it from Historic England's 'at risk' register.

A Barton Willmore CGI of part of the site
A Barton Willmore CGI of part of the site

Wokingham Borough Council has agreed planning permission for the scheme put forward by planning and design consultancy, Barton Willmore.

It features 13 different-sized football pitches - three full-size first team pitches designed to mirror the exact dimensions of the club’s Madejski Stadium, a floodlit all-weather surface and two goalkeeping practice areas.

The site will also have new club’s headquarters, changing rooms and visitor facilities including a café, and refurbished residential buildings.

The new site will replace Reading FC’s current training ground at Hogwood Park and will become home for both the first team and youth academy.

Barton Willmore, which has its head office six miles away in Reading, has provided architecture, landscape, heritage and planning services to Reading FC, creating a sustainable scheme that looks to restore, enhance and protect the site’s existing natural surroundings and heritage assets and provide a comprehensive management plan for the future.

Architectural partner Nick Collins said: "The fact that Historic England will be able to remove the Grade II* Listed Bearwood Park from the ‘at risk’ register once this work is finished is testament to the quality of the design.

"By ensuring the design and landscaping respected this historic and picturesque setting, we were able to ensure that the scheme provided the fragile site with some much needed rejuvenation.

"As well as extensive refurbishment of existing agricultural and residential buildings, which will improve the visual and build quality, the new buildings are framed within the dense green landscape, providing a scenic backdrop to facilities of the highest quality."

Reading FC co-chairman Sir John Madejski, called the development "a major step forward in the history of Reading Football Club and a really positive move in terms of its future".

The club's chief executive Nigel Howe added: "We’ve been working on this development for a couple of years, not including the years we spent looking for the right site. So now, to have planning permission granted, it is an incredible result for Reading Football Club.

"It will be a facility that demonstrates our ambition to attract the best young players to the club."

Development work on the site is due to begin shortly. It is hoped that some of the facilities will be in place for use in the summer of 2016. Established in 1936, Barton Willmore offers town planning, masterplanning, landscape, environmental planning, and design from eleven offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Cambridge, Ebbsfleet, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading and Solihull.

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