Wallingford Sports Park is a successful multi sports centre that is home to 7 individual clubs as well as many other pay-to-play sporting and community activities. The Park is utilised 7 days a week throughout the year with the most intense activity centred at week-ends and in the evenings.
After nearly 40 years of successful operation of adult sport, usage rates have seen an upsurge over the last 10 years, particularly, in the junior sections of rugby, hockey, tennis and football, with a marked increase on Sunday mornings as well as the more traditional Saturday sport.
As a result, in spite of informal arrangements with neighbouring commercial premises, notably Fugro, the on site capacity of the car park is exceeded regularly on Sunday mornings and quite often on Saturday afternoons as well, during the winter season – with cars parking on Hither croft Road and, more worryingly, on the Bypass.
The Trustees, who oversee the operations on the Park, are concerned that whilst being enthusiastic about accommodating the increasing demands of a growing population in the post 2012 Olympic era, they must also ensure the adequacy and safety of those using the facilities in such a way that the environmental impact of travel is sensibly controlled.
This Travel Plan is, thus, an essential tool in delivering ongoing and sustainable access to the Sports Park.
The Sports Park is situated to the west of Wallingford town centre, between hither croft Industrial Estate and the Bypass. Whilst Wallingford itself is within walking and cycling distance, access to the wider catchment area that it serves, stretching up to the outskirts of Henley, Reading, Newbury and Oxford, is by car.
At present, access to the Sports Park is predominantly via the main entrance on Hither croft road which connects the Town Centre with the bypass (A4130). Hither croft road is not on any bus route, but is served by a footway alongside the road from the town Centre up to the Sports Park Entrance and, thus provides a satisfactory means of access for walkers from Wallingford (Town Centre – 15 mins) as well as cyclists and car users.
In addition, there are two footpaths that link the Sports Park to the Town, shown as dotted lines on the map. One extends from Fir Tree Avenue, past the Allotments, to skirt the northern perimeter of the Sports Park and in Practice, serves no useful purpose for users of the Park. The other runs from the centre of Town across Fir Tree Avenue, skirts the football pitch and Tennis Courts before it crosses the Sports Park between the rugby pitches and exits across the bypass. This one therefore does serve as a very useful connection to the Town (10 minutes) although at present is only designated as a footway and is somewhat overgrown.
The overarching aim of the Travel Plan is to maximise the capacity of the available parking space off road whilst encouraging sustainable travel modes other than single occupancy vehicle trips, so as to:
- decrease pressure on an already overcrowded car park
- provide safe access to and from the Park
- enable the Sports Trust to be a good neighbour by minimising overspill problems on the public highway
In order to achieve these aims, the following objectives have been identified:
- To hard pave and drain the existing car parking areas where space is frequently restricted by flooding and to identify and create any additional car parking on site which could not otherwise be used for sporting activities.
- To extend the Sports Park’s informal relationship with Fugro to provide alternative off site parking on Saturdays as well as on Sunday mornings.
- To facilitate the development and use of sustainable travel by striving to improve alternative means of access to the private car.
- To encourage travel to and from the Park by means other than single car occupancy.
- To communicate information on alternative car parking and transport modes.
In order to achieve these objectives and gain the commitment of club members, it is proposed that the Sports Trust should set up a cross club working party, whose brief will include:
1. On Site Car Parking
- Vigorously pursue paving and draining existing parking areas from front gate through to Jubilee Field bridge as part of 2013 round of grant bidding, to accommodate emergency access, unloading, disabled parking and drop-off areas
- Upgrade informal parking on the Jubilee Field
- Survey whole of Sports Park and identify suitable areas for additional parking, in particular, the land at the Bypass end of the AWP
- Approach Fugro with a view to extending and formalising existing relationship, which presently allows some Sunday parking for Sports Park users in exchange for week day parking for Fugro employees
3. Sustainable Travel
- Install new 20 rack cycle shelter adjacent to pavilion
- Put pressure on and offer support to relevant authorities (Town Council, SODC, OCC) to improve access by walking – clear, maintain, and light existing routes; create new routes as part of new Prupim development; signposting from Town
- Put pressure on and offer support to relevant authorities (Town Council, SODC, OCC) to improve access by cycling – clear, maintain, and light existing routes; create new routes as segregated parts of existing highways/footpaths/rights of way; create new routes as part of new Prupim development; signposting from Town and adjacent villages
- Investigate logistics and discuss with bus companies and relevant authorities (Town Council, SODC, OCC) the extension of bus routes at critical times to include stops at Sports Park
4. Car Multi Occupancy
- Determine likely areas of maximum benefit from car sharing
- Launch aggressive campaign for car sharing
- Encourage off site pick up points for club sides travelling to away fixtures
- Carry out survey of club members and parents to establish patterns of travel and car occupancy rates
- Make known existence of this Travel Plan to all users of the Sports Park and members of the public, via on site notice boards, Sports Park and individual club websites, libraries, schools, Town Council and SODC
- Publicise agreed actions and outcomes as they are delivered for which the support of Sports Park users is required, as above, to keep reinforcing the message
- Target emails at individuals or groups of individuals whose particular support is required to deliver certain key benefits.