Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Neighbours to fight sale of golf course for 700 homes

RESIDENTS of Emmer Green are to fight the sale of a golf club to make way for 700 new homes.

Campaign group Keep Emmer Green is opposed to plans by Reading Golf Club to sell its course off Kidmore End Lane to a developer.

Most of the course is in South Oxfordshire and has been put forward as a possible site for housing in the district council’s local plan.

The other 3.75 acres, which include the clubhouse and car park, were earmarked in Reading Borough Council’s draft local plan for 130 homes.

The relocation of the club was agreed by a majority of members in a vote earlier this month, although the result is being challenged by some others. Members stand to make thousands of pounds each from the sale.

The club’s board has reached a deal with Wates Group, a developer based in Leatherhead, to buy the land if it can secure planning permission to build on it.

The company would contribute towards a new secondary school in the area to meet the additional demand for places and a new park and ride scheme to help alleviate traffic congestion in Emmer Green and Caversham.

Plans have also been drawn up to expand Emmer Green Primary School, relocate a GP surgery and build a new pre-school. David Brocklebank, group managing director at Wates, said the development would be built in three phases.

He said: “We have plans for up to 700 new homes with distinct areas of housing, one to the south, which slots into the existing envelope associated with Reading, and another to the north that is associated with but distinct from the village of Chalkhouse Green.

“Our vision for this site is to create a high-quality development that is sensitive to the natural environment and helps communities to engage with each other in beautiful streets and green spaces, allowing both people and the existing natural environment to thrive.”

“We will work closely with the club and members by holding structured sessions early in the process to establish their needs moving forward. Where new facilities are required, Wates can assist the club in delivering and constructing these.”

Keep Emmer Green says it is not opposed to the sale of part of the course and claims that members want the club to remain in Emmer Green. Spokesman Julian Ansell said: “The club’s proposed sale is believed to be only of the first and 18th holes — up to the ridge, which is a feature on the course, nothing more.

“Money from that sale will go to buying a club at a different location, maybe further developing their facilities. It could also create a large cash reserve.

“This may use up the initial money with nothing or very little left over for a member payout.

“There is no commitment from Wates, the potential housebuilder and developer of the course, to buy anything else without planning approval.

“The two councils that control planning across the course have not yet given planning approval and are unlikely to.

“Many members accept that the club may need to sell a small part of its land but it does not need to sell all of it.

“The club would still own a major land asset whose value can only increase in the years ahead.

“Some members have developed options for the club to generate cash but stay in Emmer Green.

“There are several different ways of doing this, without compromising the quality of the course. The club is much more likely to get local residents’ support for a small sale.”

Mr Ansell called on the club to reveal thre full extent of its plans to end the uncertainty. He said: “All the other local golf clubs, their members and staff, know that their club may be the one that Reading Golf Club seeks to buy.

“Wates have been selected, so they should not be worried about competition from other developers and therefore could fully disclose their offer.

“Insisting on confidentiality is unreasonable. Club members don’t know how much it could get for its land, what the timeline is, what is conditional, nor where they are going. They don’t know the terms of the deal. This is simply not business!”

Gary Stangoe, the club’s general manager, said Wates’s plans would provide extra facilities in the area.

He said: “From the start there were two or three companies that were outstanding with regard to the local community and recognising the infrastructure which would be required if any such development was to go ahead.

“Wates, along with some others, were very impressive in that regard.

“The club made it very clear that that was one of the main factors in this and the recommendation of Wates to members was based on everything they said they would do.”

For more information about the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/
keepemmergreen

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