Wiltshire building firm starts work on £7m project


Wiltshire construction firm Beard has started work on a  new sports facility in Berkshire on behalf of the University of Reading.

The £7m project will see Beard’s Swindon office bring much-needed sports facilities to the local community, including two new football pitches and a cricket square.

Beard will also be building a brand-new single-storey pavilion which will include a large function room, changing rooms and both a kitchen and bar.

In addition, Beard will be delivering associated landscaping around the facilities, as well as new car park. This will be supported with on-site electric vehicle charging.

Work has already begun to lay the foundations for the building, ahead of the steel frame and both internal blockwork and external brickwork. Prior to Beard beginning work, the original structures were demolished and the concrete slab was removed. This has since been recycled on-site and will be used as aggregate material for under the building footprint and the hard landscaped areas.

The building will be finished with a single ply roof and the installation of new photovoltaic solar panels. Space will also be made available for future community gardens.

The project is due to be completed by the middle of autumn this year, with work already underway by Beard to ensure the playing surfaces are ready as planned for local football and cricket teams from the summer of 2025.

The sports facility is part of the new Shinfield West housing development, and is part of plans between the university and both Shinfield Parish Council and Wokingham Borough Council. Once works are completed, the facilities will be managed, maintained and operated by Shinfield Parish Council.

Jamie Harwood, Beard’s Swindon director, said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to work once again with the team at the University of Reading and to bring this fantastic sports facility and social space to this growing community. Beard is well placed to deliver this fantastic project given our vast experience and expertise in creating high-quality sports facilities. We are working closely with the university and all the stakeholders to ensure this facility will support the community for many generations to come.”

Professor Robert Van de Noort, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “We all know about the benefits an active lifestyle can have on our physical and mental health, and the University of Reading is happy to deliver this fantastic new facility for the residents and sports teams of Shinfield.

“The University is committed to continue working with the Shinfield community to develop outdoor facilities that will be a real benefit to the local community. As a keen cyclist, I am especially looking forward to seeing more cycle routes to help people travel in a fun, healthy and sustainable way, and I know that many people in the area will appreciate these new cricket, football and social facilities too.”

Cllr Ian Clarke, speaking for Shinfield Parish Council, added: “This development helps address the shortfall in sporting facilities within the parish where participation, especially from girls and women players, has grown dramatically.”

Alongside extensive work in the education sector with the University of Reading, Marlborough College, Stowe School and Oxford University, Beard has also completed a number of high-profile sports projects.

This includes state-of-the-art training grounds, facilities and community centres for the likes of Bristol City FC, Swindon Town FC and Premiership rugby team, Bristol Bears.

Beard is a family-owned and run construction company based in Swindon, with more than 130-years of experience. Alongside its head office in Swindon, Beard also has regional offices in Bristol, Oxford, and Guildford, with a new south coast office joining in early 2024.