Thursday, 13 December 2018

'Schools and GPs couldn't cope with 245 new homes'

OPPOSITION is mounting to plans for 245 new homes on the outskirts of Emmer Green.

Residents say the development proposed by Gladman Homes would place intolerable pressure on public services and create serious congestion on surrounding roads.

They are urging South Oxfordshire District Council to refuse outline planning permission.

Emmer Green Residents’ Association conducted a survey in which 113 out of 169 respondents were opposed to development of the three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road while only five were in favour.

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

The main entrance to the development would be off Peppard Road with a smaller access off Kiln Road and a footpath entrance off Marchwood Avenue.

The company says the new estate would form a “logical extension” to Emmer Green.

However, the residents’ association says that schools and GP surgeries in Emmer Green and Caversham are already struggling to cope with demand and they would not benefit from the developer’s statutory contributions as they are in Reading borough, not South Oxfordshire. In its official submission to the council, the association says: “Our members have given examples of the pressures on services already being experienced in Emmer Green, particularly in schools and health activities.

“The location of the proposed housing will lead residents to look to Emmer Green, and Reading more generally, for many services.

“Complications will arise because the development site is in South Oxfordshire but Emmer Green is in Reading borough.

“Issues will arise in determining and describing the catchment areas and service entitlements in the boundary area between the two.

“Gladman has expressed a willingness to contribute to strengthening local services but there will be legal and financial problems in fairly allocating such money to the local and public authorities.”

The association also says the access would be dangerous as Peppard Road is narrow, winding and busy at peak times.

It says: “Our members have expressed real worries about the hazards likely to arise if a significant additional number of vehicles were to join this road.

“Developments on the north Reading boundary will inevitably add pressure on the Thames bridges. At peak times, the river crossings are already under pressure with queuing traffic the norm. Any problem on or around the bridges readily leads to wider gridlock.

“There will be an impact on Emmer Green but if this analysis is correct it will be because of an increase in cars passing through. The queuing problems, with the attendant delays and air quality issues, will be in Caversham and Sonning.”

The association also believes the development could set a precedent. It says: “We are concerned by the likelihood of a successful application leading to further proposals in the same area. The impact of a number of proposals would be huge and the more difficult to deal with on a piecemeal basis.

“The fundamental need for new housing cannot be challenged. However, local authorities should prepare plans that are as satisfactory as possible, taking into account local factors.

“If this process can be overridden when any developer turns up with a proposal that maximises their financial advantage, it makes a nonsense of the whole approach. One of Emmer Green’s advantages is its access to the attractive countryside immediately to the north. Loss of this area will be detrimental to the community and particularly hard for residents on the boundary who will be directly affected.”

Eye and Dunsden Parish Council has also opposed the scheme as it would triple the population of the parish, which includes Dunsden, Playhatch and Sonning Eye and has only 140 houses.

A planning officer at Reading Borough Council, which is a consultee, urged members to oppose Gladman’s plans.

Susanna Bedford said: “The proposal would have a significant impact on the surrounding infrastructure in Reading borough, including highways, education, open space/leisure facilities (encompassing the use of Clayfield Copse and Blackhouse Wood) and the provision of affordable housing.

“It would result in the increased use of substandard road junctions, which would have an adverse effect on road safety and the flow of traffic.

“It is unlikely to function or operate in a sustainable manner, taking account of the site’s relatively remote location, which is poorly served by public transport links and pedestrian/cycle routes.”

The district council will decide the application on February 1.

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