We are so excited about The Waterside Centre – that is really our big news at the moment – work has finally started!! We’d love it if you could share news of this exciting project with your contacts. We think it is going to be real community effort, and further details are here:
Newbury Weekly News
THIS is what Newbury’s Waterside Centre could look like if plans to renovate it are approved.
BBY Waterside Ltd has applied to refurbish and partially demolish and extend the facility, which dates back to the 1960s.
The refurbished community and youth centre would provide a range of activities, including rock climbing, dancing and canoeing.
Existing services would also be upgraded to provide suitable heating, lighting and wi-fi.
Among the proposed features are a new climbing tower and a two-storey viewing gallery/café for public use overlooking the main hall and Kennet and Avon Canal.
West Berkshire Council acquired the canalside building when Berkshire County Council dissolved in 1998 and, until recently, used it to provide support to the most vulnerable young people in the district.
An agreement was reached with Bradfield College, the Bradfield Club and Berkshire Youth earlier this year to bring about the long-awaited refurbishment.
Planning documents say that the condition of the building fabric has “contributed to the centre’s underuse in recent years and extensive modernisation is now required in order to get the building back into a condition which is fit for its purpose”.
The current standard of the building fails to comply with current building regulations, the documents continue, resulting in “poor services for the community of Newbury”.
The applicant adds that the improvements would also add value and enhance the experience for West Berkshire’s growing community.
In documents submitted with the plans, it says: “This application proposes to refurbish, upgrade and extend the deteriorated existing building in order to bring it in line with current standards and regulations, allowing Berkshire Youth to carry out its mission to serve the community of Berkshire, as well as educating and developing young people in order to help them to grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society.”
The new climbing tower would stretch to 14.5m, which would allow it to “act as a visual cue for the centre as well as the surrounding retail units”.
No new parking will be provided, with the application saying that there are already a number of car parks serving their relative retail/office units.
It adds that there is potential for a new footbridge to the east of the centre, which could be covered in a separate planning application.
A decision is expected to be made by West Berkshire Council by August 28.
Meanwhile, the application can be viewed in full by entering 19/01672/FUL into the planning search facility on West Berkshire Council’s website.
The council said earlier this year that the Bradfield Club would purchase a 50 per cent share in the centre from the council.
Berkshire Youth would then submit plans for the £750,000 refurbishment, paid in part by the Bradfield Club, but also by a number of other donors.
Once complete, the centre will be operated by Berkshire Youth on a peppercorn rent from the council and the Bradfield Club.
On the 30th July, The Children’s Society produced a report on the effects of COVID-19 on the lives of young people. The report found that 1 in 5 young people aged 10 to 17 were unhappy with their lives. This figure is shocking but not surprising as we have ourselves witnessed an alarming downward trend in young people’s happiness and emotional wellbeing. We have seen a marked decline in young people’s perception of their health and wellbeing since 2009 and this is highlighted in the Government’s own publication ‘State of the Nation 2019: Children and Young People’s Wellbeing’.
The report acknowledges: “Young people similarly reported high levels of support from their family and happiness with their health, but less satisfaction with their leisure time. Happiness with health and leisure time was lower both in young people aged 20-24 compared to 16-19 year olds, and UK-wide data suggests happiness with health decreased between 2009-10 and 2013-14.”
And in a compendium of factsheets, ‘International Comparisons of Health and Wellbeing’ produced by the Department of Health: “The UK reported below average on self-reported health for young people ranking 20th out of 27 EU countries.”
So what does all of this tell us? I am not a scientist or a public health expert, but we have seen a decade of cuts and 20 years plus of performance management; we count and measure every child by a test, a grade or a result. We have closed down everything young people used to have whilst investing in treatments, interventions and short-term one-off programmes.
Berkshire Youth has this year been around for a mere 80 years, investing in youth to build for the future. We continue to do this and finally, after 10 hard years of debating, promises and let downs, we have finally got a building for young people in the centre of Newbury – the Waterside. Now we face the challenge of raising the final refurbishment funds and ways to support the revenue costs.
The Waterside is tired and, after years of being let down and run-down, Berkshire Youth has the fantastic opportunity to offer life back to the Riverside Youth Centre, to provide a place to go and things to do for young people in the area. The Waterside has seen many youth workers, with backgrounds in climbing and exploring, drama and dance, music, counselling, advice and guidance, but what it has always been is a place for young people. In previous years, the centre has thrived through dance music, Northern Soul, punk disco and Irish dancing, but it should be a place of safety, a place where young people can go, a place to get involved and a place to help with the transition to adulthood with the skills and confidence to be independent, resilient and courageous.
We are looking to work with the local community to get the Waterside up and running again as quickly as possible. Please keep an eye on our social media and let us know if you are able to help.
Paul Presents: Berkshire Youth with David Seward
It has been an exciting year for Berkshire Youth since we spoke to David , just over a year ago. They are about to embark on an exciting new venture and David explains what the new plans for the future are.
About Berkshire Youth
Berkshire Youth have been serving the youth of Berkshire for 80 years, supporting and developing clubs and delivering projects. They provide activities to encourage a healthy lifestyle, training for youth workers and volunteers and encouraging young people to take positive action within their community.
Their mission is
‘To be the champion of young people in Berkshire, furthering their development and education and enriching their lives through leisure time activities to help them grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society and that their conditions of life may be improved.’