Our proposal 

Nene Park Trust wishes to create a new community sport facility at the existing Woodlands Sports Pitches at Splash Lane, Castor, Peterborough. The proposals would ensure that sport can continue at Woodlands for future generations.  

The Trust's plans include a new sports pavilion with dedicated changing facilities and community space. They also plan to provide a year-round Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) on site. It is envisaged that the Woodlands Pavilion will have a multi-function purpose and will be used by the community for a number of activities including sports, training, meetings, education, health and wellbeing. 

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 pavilion with a sports 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. 

To prevent the site being laid dormant, Nene Park 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 current Pavilion to increase their accommodation provision.  

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

What will it 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 comprise of changing facilities and an indoor space that will house a large hall for indoor exercise activity or meetings with associated kitchen, storage and toilets. The original concept design of two buildings interlinked has now been developed with the changing facilities in a L-shape plan wrapping around the multi-function hall.  

Why can’t you use the existing building? 

Following complex negotiation with the previous leaseholders and to enable a return to community sports use, Nene Park Trust took over the management of Woodlands Sport pitches in 2017. Part of the original site, including the Pavilion, is under the management of a local care home provider, Country Court Care, who have built a care facility on site.   

Who will be using the site and will this increase visitor numbers? 

We have designed these improvements to increase opportunities for participation from a wide range of people with varying interests and needs from across our community.  We are also working with the clubs using the grass pitches to diversify their offers and get more young people and women represented on site.  Whilst there will be an increase from the levels of use recently seen this will not be greater than the levels of use of the original sports centre and we are focusing our efforts on spreading this activity around the year rather than increasing total capacity.

Who are you working with on this project? 

We are working with local architects BBA and award-winning landscape architects Sheils Flynn, Structural Engineers Webb Yates, Transport Consultants Bancroft Consulting and Savills. We are also working with the local sports clubs, relevant bodies such as Sport England, ECB and the LTA as well as Castor PC 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.  

The existing car park will provide provision for Nene Park Woodlands visitors provided on the Country Court Care Site, with the provision of 15 spaces on weekdays, 60 for matches and the opportunity to increase this onsite and in fields adjacent for events. 

There will also be new provision made for accessible spaces, EV parking and coach drop off and turning and covered cycle parking.  

What will be the impacts of traffic from the proposals?

We have undertaken a joint exercise with Country Court Care, using an independent transport consultant to review the proposals for the sports facilities and the proposed assisted living accommodation. Using nationally benchmarked data, current site information and historic information for Woodlands, the number of traffic movements and parking requirements have been calculated. This has all been based on the worst case scenario of maximum utilisation and overlapping use. The results of this show that traffic movements would be lower overall than the previous established use at Woodlands. 

How will the ecology and biodiversity of the site be affected?  

The proposed site for building and MUGA have very little habitat value. 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.  

To improve the biodiversity our plans include: 

  • planting 18 native trees 
  • creation of 995 m2 of wildflower lawn 
  • 313 m2 of wildflower extensive green roof with over 49 species to give a suitable environment for insects and invertebrates 
  • planting of 136 lin m of mixed native hedging 
  • creation of 81.5 lin m of swale with planting of over 13 different wetland plants 
  • placement of bird  and  bat  boxes  on  the  pavilion  building 
  • placement of invertebrate box within the stone filled gabion wall 

How are you making the building sustainable? 

The Woodlands Pavilion has been designed to align with the Trust's environmental ambitions, through the application of the core principles of Passive House design: high quality insulation; superior windows; mechanical ventilation and heat recovery; airtight construction; and, no thermal bridging.  

The intention is to include Photovoltaic tiles on the roof and install a rainwater harvesting system for the toilets If the proposed demolition of the existing Sports Centre is granted planning permission, and dependent on time frames for the separate developments, then materials from the Sports Centre will be re-used in the new pavilion. 

A Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system has been put forward as it is an efficient low carbon means of providing heat to the building and aims to future proof the building as the UK moves away from gas boilers. 

Will the MUGA floodlights be left on all night? 

Nene Park Trust is proposing for the MUGA to be in operation up to 10pm. Whilst it is considered that the lighting will not have a significant impact upon residential amenity, ceasing play at 22:00 hours would result in the lighting still remaining on until the site is cleared. Therefore, it is considered that the hours of use be suitably conditioned so that play ends at 21:30 and the lights be turned off no later than 22:00 hours (on weekdays). All times are before the standard curfew of 23:00 hours as set out in the ILE Guidance.  

Will the building be accessible? 

The access strategy for the Woodlands Pavilion is based on the principles of inclusive design in relation to the protected characteristic of disability under the Equality Act 2010. 

The proposed development has been designed with access for all in mind. The key provisions include:  

  • A management system in place to allow drop off and limited accessible parking in close proximity to the Pavilion, with the remainder of the accessible parking found in the main car park. 
  • Power assisted doors to facilitate ease and independent access for all.
  • Level access thresholds present at all entrances to the building.
  • A separate unisex accessible changing room. 
  • Communal changing rooms for sports teams sized to accommodate accessible changing and showering facilities within them. 
  • A separate unisex-accessible WC. 
  • A separate unisex accessible parent room. 
  • A Changing Places facility.
  • The kitchen area will be wheelchair accessible, with a counter top set at 850mm. 
  • An assistive listening system, and signs indicating its availability, provided in the multi-function hall.

Why is the pavilion a long way from the cricket wicket? 

The layout of the site has been developed through a thorough understanding of the site constraints. This has included workshops with the client and wider design team, alongside discussions with various stakeholders in the Woodlands site, including the adjacent care home provider, tennis club, sports bodies and local community. 

It is important that the pavilion has good views across the sports pitches and provides direct access to as many pitches and different sports uses as possible. The most optimum solution for this would have been to place the building in the centre of the existing site, with new pitches arranged radially around it. However, this would have a detrimental impact on the open field nature of the site.  

A further small new building (machinery store) near the cricket green will provide shelter for the cricketers, storage and scoring alongside storage of machinery to maintain the green. 

How wide is the buffer between the village and the proposals?

The buffer around the northern edge of our proposals varies from 10m to 40m.  Within this buffer is a mixture of shrub and tree planting, wildflowers and long grass areas.  There is also a range of habitat features for invertebrates and nesting boxes for bats and birds.

How will the project be funded?

To make this project a reality we will be reliant on grants and donations from sports governing bodies, other grant providers and fundraising from sports clubs and the local community. Nene Park Trust will also be investing funds secured from the lease of part of the site into the construction of these new facilities. 

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 later in 2023.

When do you expect the new centre to be finished?

We expect that the facility will be opened in 2024