Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Residents fear threat of development at golf club

RESIDENTS are unhappy about plans to build houses on a golf course in Emmer Green.

Part of the land owned by Reading Golf Club in Kidmore End Road could be sold to make way for 100 homes. The clubhouse, car park and two holes would be lost.

The 3.75 acres of land were included in Reading’s housing and economic land availability assessment, which was published in November.

However, most of the rest of the course is in South Oxfordshire and residents fear the entire course could be sold for development.

Keep Emmer Green, a lobby group formed last year after fears about houses being built at Caversham Park when it is sold by the BBC and Gladman Land’s application for 245 homes on the edge of Emmer Green, is concerned.

A spokesman said: “At first it was restricted to a small area right by the clubhouse but it transpired this was not going to be sufficient to keep the club going.

“They are now in discussions where the whole course could be included and that makes a huge financial difference.

“Their intention is to relocate the golf club but they don’t know where is appropriate or if there is an existing site where the club could be expanded. They could develop the first section but then not bother with the new clubhouse and this puts pressure on the council to grant permission.

“It would be an incredible number of houses to build in this area, which is struggling without a third bridge, and it would be a loss of green space which could not be replaced.

“The impact on the area in terms of traffic flows would be significant.

“We understand houses have to be built but there would be infrastructure needs as well as more school places while doctors’ surgeries are already under pressure.”

Reading East MP Matt Rodda wants the golf club removed as a potential housing site from Reading Borugh Council’s local plan.

He said the course helped to reduce carbon emissions by providing a green space on the edge of Reading.

In a letter to Alison Bell, the council’s director of environment and neighbourhood services, he said: “Reading Borough Council has, in line with Labour Party national policy, prioritised regeneration on brownfield sites in its own planning policy rather than on greenfield sites.

“There is enough brownfield land in Reading to accommodate our development needs. I see no reason to build in open spaces on the outskirts of town.

“I do not believe that Reading Borough Council ought to sanction a development that would come at such a high cost in terms of pollution and traffic given the lack of transport links in this area.”

The golf club has told members it is considering selling up and those who own shares could make of thousands of pounds if the development goes ahead. The amount could be much higher if the whole course is sold.

The club says it is actively exploring potential sites for relocation and is considering all options to secure its future.

Chairman Colin Reed said: “Reading Golf Club has not entered into any agreements with developers.

“There is no planning permission in place, nor has planning permission been sought for any part of our site.

“We have, however, taken what we regard as a prudent precaution of attempting to get our site included in the local plans for possible future development.

“As other local clubs will testify, golf clubs nationwide are facing challenging times with declining memberships and revenues. We are not immune from these threats to our future.

“In the light of this, and with some large capital expenditure projects on the horizon, we have been considering all options to secure our financial security.

“Should a suitable site for relocation be found and a decision then made to relocate, we are committed to finding reputable development partners with whom to work.

“We are fully aware of our responsibility to the local community to find suitable solutions to issues arising from any such development. This process could take several years and is currently at its embryonic stage.”

The club was formed in 1910 after the creation of the 18-hole course. It was called the Caversham and South Oxfordshire Golf Club but changed to Reading Golf Club in 1939.

The founding members bought the farmland for the club thanks to generous investments by two
men and after it formed all the assets of the club were owned by the members.

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