Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Opponents prepare arguments against new homes appeal

Opponents prepare arguments against new homes appeal

A PROPOSED development of 245 homes on the outskirts of Emmer Green would leave the residents isolated and put undue pressure on the infrastructure, say opponents.

Gladman Homes has appealed after it was refused planning permission to build on three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road, which it says would be a “logical extension” to the built-up area to the south.

The development would include a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced homes, of which up to 40 per cent would be “affordable”, with a main entrance off Peppard Road, a smaller one off Kiln Road and a footpath off Marchwood Avenue.

The Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden, a protest group set up by residents, wants the decision made by South Oxfordshire District Council in September to be upheld.

The council’s planning committee said the 13.5-hectare site in Eye and Dunsden parish was not earmarked for development in the district’s core strategy.

In documents submitted to the Planning Inspectorate before a four-day inquiry begins at Henley Rugby Club on Tuesday, the campaigners argue that the scheme would be unsustainable and would harm its rural surroundings.

Leigh Rawlins, a Sonning Common parish councillor and member of the group, said the estate would be an urban extension of Reading and place additional strain on the borough’s roads and services.

He said the fields were in Reading borough until 1977 when they were made part of South Oxfordshire in exchange for the land where the Caversham Park Village development now stands.

Councillor Rawlins, a chartered accountant, said: “The logic was that the land was beyond Reading’s natural limits and would be better protected against inappropriate development by being recognised as part of the district’s countryside.”

He said Gladman’s proposal went against Government policy that new developments should “support strong, vibrant and healthy communities” with “accessible local services”. He said: “Sadly, the site simply does not do this. It sits in a salient angle jutting out into the landscape within the political area of Oxfordshire while seeking to function as an urban extension of Reading.

“The employment and primary social links of potential residents would likely be to Reading. However, the town already faces pressures on infrastructure provision north of the River Thames.

“A family moving on to the site will face many problems. While employment and economic needs including shopping will draw them into Reading itself, other social needs such as healthcare and primary education will force them into South Oxfordshire.

“For the average family, morning transport arrangements are likely to be inefficient, unsustainable, stressful and vexing.

“Their children would form social links in Oxfordshire schools yet live on a site where links would more naturally be in the northern area of Reading.

“There is little capacity in nearby primary schools or health surgeries in South Oxfordshire. If this site was to proceed it would certainly empty any capacity necessary to support both infill and allocation sites within the district.

“This is not building communities and is certainly not a recipe for social cohesion.” Reading Borough Council opposes development north of the Thames because of constraints such as the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and pressure on roads.

It says: “If this appeal is upheld, there is concern that it could set a precedent for the development of other sites which are being promoted adjacent to the borough’s boundaries.

“School place capacity in the area is tight and… there is no prospect of any spare capacity to accommodate the results of significant new development, particularly if it originates outside the borough.

“The main issue is transport infrastructure… there is little prospect of significant improvement to the severe congestion experienced in this area.”

Gladman says: “The development would make a substantial contribution towards the housing supply deficit, which must be given significant weight.

“The loss of greenfield sites in sustainable locations within South Oxfordshire is inevitable for the council to meet its five-year requirement and the site is not subject to any landscape designation.

“The provision of affordable housing would offer young professionals and families an opportunity to live in the area and to get on the housing ladder… and will not adversely affect the viability of the scheme.”

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