Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Volunteer gardeners angry at loss of flower bed

VOLUNTEER community gardeners are angry that a flower bed will have to make way for the development of four homes

VOLUNTEER community gardeners are angry that a flower bed will have to make way for the development of four homes in Sonning Common.

The bed, outside the Occasions store in Wood Lane, must be relocated along with a bus shelter so the shop’s car park can be enlarged.

The Village Gardeners, who look after the flowers beds and green spaces in the village, say the move will spoil their hard work.

A planning inspector agreed the bed outside Occasions was an “attractive” feature that “softens” the appearance of the area but said planning permission was not required to remove it.

He suggested it should be relocated, adding: “This would ensure the character of the area is preserved.”

The garden was the first of three to be planted by the Village Gardeners in 2009 after the previous bed had been littered with broken bottles and bricks.

Councillor Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury, who chairs the group, said she had nothing against the development but was angry that the bed would be removed for the sake of several parking spaces.“Yes, we need parking but not at the expense of our prime flower bed,” she said.

“It seems what we wanted for our village hasn’t been taken into account. We’ve been told by many people that what we’ve done in the village has brought pride back into the community and harnessed a collective spirit, while vandalism is virtually at a standstill.

“All the businesses and organisations are behind us and we’re a massive part of the community yet we’re seemingly powerless. I keep being told it’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do but there must be something.”

Jill Greenwood, a member of the group, said the three flower beds in Wood Lane were the “core” of the village and the volunteers had been invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to take part in the It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme, which supports community groups in cleaning up their areas.

Fieldgate Properties, the developer, said the plans included a new brick bed and the company would liaise with the volunteers.

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