The Proposal

Where is Woodlands? 

Woodlands is in the village of Castor about 4 miles west of Peterborough City Centre and is part of Nene Park Trust’s wider estate.

What are you proposing to build?

A Sports Pavilion and Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA)

Why is this needed at Woodlands?

Woodlands became a sports facility in the late 1980’s when Pearl Assurance moved its main operation from London to Peterborough and provided sport and recreation facilities for its staff, building a large sports centre with a large hall, gym, squash courts and snooker room, along with extensive social areas. The building closed in 2005 although the pitches and outdoor facilities remained in use for a few more years. In 2015 the site was likely to be cleared and enclosed securely by Standard Life Investments to minimise the running and maintenance costs of the derelict site.

To prevent the site lying dormant and return the pitches to community use, Nene Park Trust took over the management of Woodlands Sport pitches in 2017. Part of the original site is under the management of a local care home provider, Country Court Care, who have built a care facility onsite. They are intending to demolish the existing unused sports centre replacing this with a purpose made assisted living and care facility which will be subject to a separate planning application.

Nene Park Trust is currently working on designs for modern sustainable facilities to ensure that sport can continue at Woodlands for future generations.

What will the new sports pavilion look like?

We are proposing an economical building, built with sustainability as a key principle using reclaimed materials from the original building where possible. The building will have two sections with a covered central area connecting them. The two areas will comprise of a dedicated set of changing facilities and an indoor space that will house a hall for indoor exercise activity or meetings with associated kitchen including a serving hatch, storage and toilets.

How much do you expect to increase visitor numbers?

We don’t expect to increase numbers greatly at the weekend in the summer months, but we hope that Woodlands will be utilised to a higher level on weekdays and in the winter months with the addition of indoor space and the MUGA.  We anticipate the visits to the site to be less than those when the original leisure centre building was operational and a full highways assessment will be submitted with the planning application and be co-ordinated with the care home development.

Who are you working with on this project?

We are working with an award winning team including local architects BBA, landscape architects Sheils Flynn, Engineers Webb Yates with planning support from Savills. We are also working with the local sports clubs, relevant bodies such as the FA, Football Foundation, Sport England, ECB and the LTA as well as Castor Parish Council, Castor and Ailsworth Tennis Club and Country Court Care to produce a scheme that will benefit the local community.

Access, traffic and parking

Woodlands is situated in the village of Castor, 4 miles west of the city centre but within easy access of the A47.

Country Court Care is providing car park spaces for Nene Park Woodlands visitors with 60 spaces for weekend matches. 

Ecology

The proposed site for the building and MUGA have very little habitat value as highly improved sports grass. Our surveys have shown that there are no priority species in the area which will be affected and there will therefore be very little impact to wildlife and the habitat surrounding the site. The soft landscaping will be planted for pollinators and we are improving out management around the site already to improve habitat value

About Nene Park Trust / The finances

Is Nene Park Trust a charity?

Yes. Nene Park Trust was established in 1988 to ensure the protection and maintenance of the Park. The charity’s objective is to provide a recreational opportunity for visitors and improve the quality of life of the local community.

What else does Nene Park Trust offer in the Park?

There are a wide range of activities and experiences available here in the Park. From the Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity centre, to the Lakeside Kitchen and Bar,  our Visitor Centre and play areas, there are opportunities for everyone to have a great time.

How will Nene Park Trust benefit from this?

The Trust’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for the people of Peterborough and the surrounding area.  Recreation is a key element to this and establishing the site to work in a financially sustainable way will enable us to continue to maintain the facilities and encourage as wide a range of people as possible to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

How can Nene Park Trust afford to do this?

Nene Park Trust does hold a large endowment fund. However, under its constitution it is only permitted to spend the income generated from its endowment fund and cannot spend the capital. The majority of funding for these developments will be secured by grants with some social investment and an element of match funding provided by the Trust.  We may also crowd fund towards the total.

The charity relies heavily on the investment income generated from its reserves to fund the day to day running costs of Nene Park. The Trust has a 999 year lease and therefore needs to maintain the real value of its reserves in the long term, so as to generate the much-needed investment income required to protect the Park for many years to come.

What happens next?

Planning permission will be applied for shortly to Peterborough City Council and we hope to have a positive decision early in 2022.

When do you expect the new centre to be finished?

We expect that the facility will be opened in 2023