Friday, 20 July 2018

Developer sparks fears of urban creep from Reading

FEARS are growing that Sonning Common could be swallowed up by housing development on the outskirts of

FEARS are growing that Sonning Common could be swallowed up by housing development on the outskirts of Reading. 

Sonning Common Parish Council wants to work together with neighbouring parishes to try to stop the threat of urban creep.

It comes after developer Gladman Land unveiled plans for 270 homes on three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road on the northern edge of Emmer Green.

The company says the development would form a “logical extension” to Emmer Green as there is already housing on its southern and south-western edges. 

The site is in Eye and Dunsden parish and South Oxfordshire district, not Reading borough.

Sonning Common parish councillor Leigh Rawlins said he feared that 800 hectares of farmland north of the River Thames could be built on. Speaking at a council meeting on Monday, he said: “They have got the required space for 20,000 houses breaking from the Thames to Shiplake and with other developments we could see not only Sonning Common but also Henley becoming part of the Reading settlement.

“A hectare of farmland around here is worth £20,000 but with planning permission, even after social housing, section 106 and community infrastructure levy contributions, it is worth £1.5million to £2million, depending how much you can cram on it.

“Clearly this is far greater than Sonning Common and I believe it would be worthwhile planning with other parish councils to share skills and see what is possible. I think other parishes would be interested, especially in the current climate where the district council’s local plan is in a bind because of the lack of a five-year land supply.”

In May South Oxfordshire District Council announced that it would give its core strategy “significantly less weight” in future after losing two planning appeals over proposed developments in Wallingford and Chinnor. 

The council refused permission because the sites weren’t earmarked for development but both applicants successfully argued that the council’s housebuilding targets were too low and it hadn’t secured enough immediately available land to meet demand for the next five years.

Cllr Rawlins said the edge of many cities and large towns was protected from development by the green belt but this was not the case in Reading.

He said: “The green belt is used to make a distinction between the city and the countryside to stop everything from becoming one conurbation.  Unfortunately, Reading has never had any green belt.”

Councillor Tom Fort said the fight against the threat of development spreading from Reading should be led by Eye and Dunsden Parish Council.

He said: “They want to work with us and it’s their initiative because it is their parish. I also disagree with my good friend when he talks about Henley. This is a specific proposal for a different area.”

Cllr Fort urged the village’s county councillor David Bartholomew to ask highways officers to visit the site as the proposed access on to the B481 was “a nightmare in the making”.

“The thought of 270 houses on this narrow and dangerous road is incredible and the highways department needs to get off their a***s and have a look,” he said.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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