Sunday, 25 July 2021

Village would be 'betrayed' if 245 homes were allowed

RESIDENTS of Sonning Common would be “betrayed” if a development of 245 homes just over a mile away was granted permission, say parish councillors.

They were responding to plans by Gladman Developments to build on three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road, which are in Eye and Dunsden parish.

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

But Sonning Common Parish Council say the plans are contrary to the village’s neighbourhood plan, which says that keeping the village separate from Reading is one of its core objectives.

In a letter to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, it gives 17 reasons why the outline application should be refused, including:

l The main vehicle access point from Peppard Road would be dangerous.

l The location is unsustainable and would not meet the housing needs of South Oxfordshire as the site is on the edge of Reading borough.

l The development would be only one mile from the boundary with Sonning Common parish.

The letter says: “A recommendation of approval from the district council would mark a betrayal of existing residents and cause serious, substantial and permanent harm to the local area.

“Given that this is an outline application, a full application with potentially more new houses would have even more damaging consequences for the area.

“The proposed development would occupy a significant part of the strategic green gap between Sonning Common, Emmer Green and Eye and Dunsden.

“This green gap provides vital separation not only between these rural areas but between these rural settlements and Reading.

“This gap is essential to preserve the character and integrity of the rural settlements.

“One of the primary objectives of the adopted Sonning Common neighbourhood plan, which was backed overwhelmingly by residents, is to preserve the village’s separateness from Reading.

“The village’s character and surrounding rural landscape would be permanently and irrevocably damaged by allowing this urban extension to Reading.”

The letter also says the development would mean Sonning Common’s facilities such as the health centre, dentist and primary school, would be put under more strain.

“Education and healthcare provision in and around Sonning Common and Emmer Green is already struggling to meet the needs of the existing population,” it says.

“Primary schools are over-subscribed and there is only one secondary school serving the whole of Caversham and Emmer Green.

“The area’s health surgeries, both in Sonning Common and Emmer Green, are already under significant pressure.

“Sonning Common health centre currently has some 8,600 patients and the dental surgery 3,800.

“The village’s population is less than 5,000, so a notable number of patients come from smaller settlements around the village’s periphery. Sonning Common’s sustainability with regard to education and healthcare will be further stretched by the 195 new homes allocated under the neighbourhood plan and the additional 44 homes in reserve.”

Reading Borough Council and other neighbouring parish councils have also objected to the plans, saying the development would be unsustainable.

Gladman says it wants to build detached, semi-detached and terraced homes, up to 40 per cent of which would be “affordable”.

The development would have areas of public open space, two play areas and a “sustainable drainage basin” designed to attract wildlife as well as retaining an existing public footpath.

There would be a secondary vehicle access point off Kiln Road.

The company says: “Our analysis shows that the existing trees and hedgerows located along both the site boundaries and within the body of the site should be retained and enhanced with new landscaping.

“An important consideration that has also informed the design proposals is the existing water main, gas main and the chalk pit located within the southern half of the site.”

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