Smarts Heath Common – plan for new sports complex

WOKING Borough Council has unveiled plans to build a new sports complex on the edge of environmentally sensitive Smarts Heath Common in Mayford.

The scheme provides a new home for Woking Gymnastics Club, with room to expand, a restaurant and parking, plus a pond, reed bed and a picnic area, as well as improved access to the common. There would also be a flood relief scheme built in.

A public consultation on the plans is set to be held locally on 9 June.

The proposals, subject to planning consent, would involve developing Ten Acre Farm, in Smarts Heath Road, for the gymnastics club’s relocation from Kingfield to a new purpose-built facility.

The club, one of the UK’s biggest and the largest single youth organisation in Woking wants to widen its gymnastics classes to cover all abilities and ages and to increase its community work in delivering sessions to schools, disability and disadvantaged groups.

Lionel Smith-Gordon, club chairman, said: “When originally built, some 33 years ago, our facility was state-of-the-art nationally, but unfortunately the building is now cramped and tired. We simply do not have the space to provide gymnastics activities to meet the demand from our members.

“With the increased popularity of the sport, we also want to expand the options and disciplines that we offer including a greater variety of classes and activities. However, over the last few years we have tried to expand our existing facility, but the options have been limited and challenging.

“These proposals offer an exceptional opportunity to secure the club’s long-term future, whilst providing second-to-none facilities within the heart of the local community.”

PROPOSAL – architect’s plan of what the new gym hall and grounds would look like

Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Smarts Heath Common Smart’s Heath particularly rich in wild flowers, such as southern marsh orchids, yellow rattle, tufted vetch and ox-eye daisy and is regularly grazed by cattle.

Council leader Cllr John Kingsbury, Portfolio Holder for Asset Management, said: “It has been an aspiration of the council to relocate Woking Gymnastics Club to more suitable premises that would allow its continued growth.

“While we have investigated many sites across the Borough, Ten Acre Farm offers an ideal location. It would also enable the council to develop its own plans to improve resident’s health and wellbeing by attracting visitors and walkers to Smarts Heath Common, similar to that achieved at Heather Farm, as well as improving local flood alleviation measures.”

The public consultation is being held between 3pm and 8pm at Emmanuel Church, Saunders Lane, Mayford.

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