Monday, 06 April 2020

Residents oppose site for homes due to flood risk

Residents oppose site for homes due to flood risk

MORE than 60 people attended a public meeting in Charvil to debate housing developments.

The village has been allocated 160 new homes in the draft local plan devised by Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority.

The document suggests building 75 homes on land west of Park Lane and 85 on land east of Park View Drive North.

The meeting was organised by Charvil Parish Council to give residents the opportunity to raise any concerns during the public consultation process, which ends on Friday.

Residents said the Park View Drive North site was unsuitable for development due to the risk of flooding.

They also raised concerns about the lack of infrastructure, the impact of more homes on traffic and the loss of green space.

John James, who lives in Park View Drive North, said: “Charvil is only a small village and this would be a massive extension.

“I wrote to the council recently and said that I was very concerned about the risk of flooding on the site near Park View Drive North.

“They have found over 200 sites in the borough which could be developed without the risk of flooding and yet they still want to go ahead with this site.

“They accepted that the site flooded but said it was not a problem because they would just build away from the area that has been flooding recently.

“It’s so important that we look at the long-term picture to make sure we are planning for the future. I don’t think they are taking enough notice of climate change.”

Mr James said he had also written to Maidenhead MP Theresa May.

Former parish councillor Greg Elphick said: “There is no infrastructure in Charvil. We have to go to Twyford and Ruscombe or into Woodley for a GP. We have a Nisa shop but that doesn’t even have a post office anymore.

“Charvil already has the highest car usage in the area. There are no proposals for infrastructure improvement in all of this.”

Mr Elphick, 56, a former police officer, said he was surprised the land at Park View Drive North had been included in the plan as he could remember being asked to help the other emergency services during the flooding over the winter of 2013/14.

He said: “As soon as we realised the site was included we were all in shock because we know it floods. A few of us started door knocking and the level of awareness was abysmal. Almost everyone whose door we knocked asked why would they build there with the flooding problems. Local opinion is that it is a very poor choice of site.”

Teacher Andrea Lawrence, of Park Lane, said: “Charvil is already overbuilt with no infrastructure to support what we have in the village. To add 160 more homes is just ludicrous.

“The field opposite the primary school where they are currently building 25 new homes has been contested for a long time. The developer succeeded in getting approval but that didn’t go down very well.

“Proposing to build on a field in a flood plain is not going to make the situation any better.

“Park Lane is a rat run from Woodley and if there is a problem on the M4 we get a lot of additional traffic.

“Traffic is frequently backed up without the extra volume that would be generated from these houses. I’m also worried about the pollution it is going to cause.

“Charvil is already overstretched. The primary school is oversubscribed and we have no doctor’s surgery and a small shop with no post office. People have to get in a car to get anything because the bus service is too unreliable.

“They want to develop the village, but they are not doing anything about giving the residents more facilities. It is just turning Charvil into a commuter village.”

The land west of Park Lane was already earmarked for development after Hicks Developments, of Woodley, was granted planning consent for 25 homes in 2016. The borough council refused permission but this was overturned on appeal.

This land is owned by the University of Reading whose vice-chancellor Robert Van de Noort is also the chairman of the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

The university denied there was any conflict of interest, saying the committee had no influence over planning decisions.

A spokesman said: “We are working with Wokingham Borough Council as part of their consultations on the local plan to suggest sites that could be used to build new homes.

“We are fortunate that we have world class experts on flooding working here. We would make sure that, on any development, we would make use of the best scientific and technical advice to cut flood risk to existing and new homes and not make it worse.

“Part of our flooding expertise is about how local communities can contribute to flood resilience.

“We will listen to local knowledge and welcome the views of people living in the area.”

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