Tuesday, 02 March 2021

Residents oppose plan for 260 homes on golf course

Residents oppose plan for 260 homes on golf course

RESIDENTS are concerned about plans to redevelop Reading Golf Club.

The club is working with developers Fairfax to build 260 homes on part of the course off Kidmore End Road, Emmer Green, while it relocates and merges with Caversham Heath Golf Club by next March.

It says the scheme is crucial to the club’s survival as it is at risk of insolvency due to declining membership and rising maintenance costs.

A planning application submitted to Reading Borough Council says the development would deliver “family and affordable houses” and include a new medical centre and public green space.

But Reading East MP Matt Rodda says local people are worried about the proposal and he wants it scrapped.

He conducted a survey in which 1,712 people took part and 81 per cent said they were “very concerned” about the plans, citing an increase in traffic, pollution, loss of green space, demand on local services and potential disruption.

Mr Rodda said: “The survey clearly shows a high level of concern among people in Caversham and Emmer Green. I hope the developers will consider local residents’ views and withdraw the plans.”

More than 150 residents have responded to the council’s public consultation, which will end on September 11, with the majority being opposed to the application.

Paul Hayward, of Highdown Hill Road, Emmer Green, said the development would worsen an area that was already an “environmental and traffic management disaster”.

He said: “Development would have a devastating effect on the surrounding countryside and habitat.

“Emmer Green and Caversham are already traffic-problem areas due to the limitations of only two Thames crossings, which I don’t suppose will increase in my lifetime.

“The nearest school is Highdown, which is already bulging at the seams. All the surrounding schools are over-subscribed.”

He said it would be preferable to develop brownfield sites with better transport links.

Chris Hilson, of Hemdean Road, Caversham, said: “Traffic from the site into Caversham and Reading town centre is likely to take one of two routes — either down Peppard Road or via Rotherfield Way and then Hemdean Road.

“Both of these are already incredibly over-congested at peak times, with traffic often backing up a considerable distance along Hemdean Road.

“Air quality in Caversham and over and around Caversham and Reading bridges is already very poor as a result mainly of vehicle emissions.

“Reading already has a poor history of encroachment on to green belt land in the Caversham area. This would be an additional unwelcome encroachment on to a sizeable piece of land that provides a vital green lung for local residents.”

Katie Burchell, of Woodcote Way, Caversham, said: “The golf course provided much-needed space for all residents during lockdown. It’s a way to get into Mapledurham safely without walking down the main road.

“The space should be left as it is for people to enjoy as and when needed. I am totally against building houses on such a precious piece of land for all who live around it.

“We have already lost Mapledurham playing fields as a space to enjoy with our children, we can’t lose this as well.” Ruth Perry, of Tredegar Road, Emmer Green, said: “Nobody who cares about our children’s futures can seriously support the building of 260 homes unless there is a financial gain for themselves.

“Those who support this plan — do you not have any concern for the climate agenda or is this all about the money? Lockdown has highlighted clearly to all of us that we need to keep our green spaces.

“No one can support more cars driving past schools every morning and polluting the air. It can only be selfish greed that is driving this and that is the root of our national and global problems. Very, very sad.”

But Kevin Wise, of Midsummer Meadow, Caversham, said: “I am supportive of this project to provide much-needed housing and medical facilities in the area and, most of all, the expansion of green space that can be used by the general public.”

Tim Shaughnessy, of Regents Riverside, Reading, said: “About time somewhere close to Reading town centre had a development of actual family homes planned rather than yet another awful apartment complex.

“This proposal looks sensible and thoughtful. both to local and wider community needs. Well done.”

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