Thursday, 25 February 2021

Residents split over golf club homes development

Residents split over golf club homes development

NEW plans to build 257 homes at Reading Golf Club are dividing residents.

The club’s revised planning application attracted 386 comments in the first eight days of public consultation, with 110 in support and 276 against.

The previous proposal, which featured three more houses but otherwise was much the same, prompted more than 2,000 objections, which is believed to be a record for a single application received by Reading Borough Council.

These focused on the loss of green land, the increase in traffic and pollution and the extra pressure that would be placed on the local infrastructure and facilities such as schools and GP surgeries.

The club, which has experienced financial problems due to declining membership is merging with Caversham Heath Golf Club in Mapledurham, where plans for a new clubhouse were approved by South Oxfordshire District Council last year.

It said it withdrew the original application to give it enough time to consider the responses to the scheme devised with developer Fairfax. This means that only the comments received in response to the revised plans will be considered and these have to be submitted before March 18.

Ruth Perry, of Tredegar Road, Emmer Green, has objected.

She said: “It would be an utter miscarriage of justice if the council was to approve a development of this size in the north of Reading.

“For our children’s futures and generations to come, it must not allow this to happen.”

Karis McMahon-Lane, of Clonmel Close, Caversham, said: “The supposedly new application for the development of the golf club in no way addresses the concerns of the community of Emmer Green and Caversham, nor the comments on the previous application.

“This is my second objection to this development based on the total disregard of the negative impact which this development would have on the local area.”

Claire Smart, of Courtenay Drive, Emmer Green, said: “There is no positive change from the first application, less green space in fact with this one.

“My biggest concern is the additional traffic — Grove Road is already insufficient to support the amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, making walking to and from schools in the area dangerous.

“Overall this will create additional places for schools, which are already struggling to accommodate the number of children in the area.

“I strongly feel this will have a serious impact on the quality of life of the local residents.”

Elisa Ashworth, of Knights Way, Emmer Green, said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the club was able to resubmit a new application after the huge opposition to the original plans.

“This build will have a devastating effect on the local community and the resources we have to support us,” she said.

“On top of that the removal of so many trees and the wildlife they support will be devastating.”

Other residents support the proposals, saying the development would provide “much-needed” affordable housing for the area.

David Allen, of Rosehill Park, Emmer Green, said: “This is a cleverly thought out solution that secures the future of the golf club and adds valuable resources to the local community. It should be fully embraced and supported by the community.”

Ian Wallace, who is the club captain for 2021 and lives in The Ridings, Emmer Green, said: “We at the golf club are very excited about the imminent move to our new home at Caversham Heath.

“We know that the club would by now already have been out of business were the deal with Fairfax not struck at the start of last year — a deal that rescued the club from financial collapse.

“The choice is not whether Reading Golf Club should stay at Emmer Green — by April 1 the club will be gone from there and there will be instead an empty plot of land, with all of the inherent dangers to the community that such an unoccupied plot of land represents.”

Stephen Lee, of Goodrich Close, Caversham, said: “Having played golf at Reading Golf Club for many years l find it disappointing that the course is closing.

“I do accept, however, that the club has had some financial difficulties, possibly due to lack of members and, looking at the planning application,

“I would have to totally agree with what is being proposed.”

Brian Fairweather, of Kidmore End Road, Emmer Green, said: “I have supported this development since it was first proposed.

“I think that the benefits to the area and inhabitants are huge.

“The existing established housing developments of Crawshay Drive, Courtenay Drive and Brooklyn Drive are a good example of previous developments in the close proximity of the proposed development.”

The club is due to move out by the end of next month and the new club will be known as The Caversham. A loss of members at both clubs meant both were losing significant sums of money and 83 per cent of members at Reading supported the move.

Gary Stangoe, manager of Reading Golf Club, says the development is about leaving a responsible legacy for the community.

Campaign group Keep Emmer Green and Matt Rodda, MP for Reading East are among those to object the development, as they do not feel previous concerns have been dealt with

Under the new plans, a total of 122 trees would be removed, four more than previously, and the proportion of public space has been marginally reduced.

Other changes include:

• Shared surface areas of road now have a footpath on one side.

• A reduction in the size of the health centre.

• The removal and repositioning of plots to reduce pressure on trees.

The club decided to sell the land four years ago as it was at risk of insolvency due to declining membership.

About a third of the 109 acres of land has already been earmarked for 90 to 120 homes by the council and is included in its local plan.

The other two-thirds of the course is in South Oxfordshire and has not been included in the district council’s local plan.

The club is still developing plans for a family golf centre, which would offer nine-hole family golf and football golf.

To respond to the application (number 210018), email golfclub
comments.planning@reading.gov.uk or visit planning.reading.gov.uk/
fastweb_PL/welcome.asp

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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