Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Objections to golf club plan set record

Objections to golf club plan set record

THE number of objections lodged against plans for 257 new homes at Reading Golf Club has set a record.

The club’s first application, which was withdrawn in November, prompted more than 2,000 critical comments, which was thought to be the most ever received by Reading Borough Council for a single application.

But the revised proposal for the course off Kidmore End Road, Emmer Green, led to a total of 3,147 objections. There were about 200 letters in support.

The application is expected to be discussed by the council’s planning committee in June.

The club and developer Fairfax are proposing to build “family and affordable housing” and a new health centre.

Opponents say the development would make the existing problems of congestion and pollution worse and purt a strain on school places.

Campaign group Keep Emmer Green encouraged residents to send in objections, saying the responses to the orginal plans would not be taken into account.

Spokesman Julian Ansell said: “The number of objections to the application is staggering and reflects the dismay of local residents at the loss of green open space and the lack of infrastructure to cope with such a large development.

“In the face of such an unequivocal message, we would encourage Reading Golf Club to rethink its approach and reconsider its concrete legacy for Caversham and Emmer Green.

“We hope and expect that the council will refuse an application littered with mistakes and omissions that is contrary to so many council development policies as well as the declaration of a climate emergency.”

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

Manager Gary Stangoe insists the development is about leaving a “responsible legacy” after the club merged with Caversham Heath Golf Club in Mapledurham om April 1.

Both clubs were losing significant sums of money due to declining membership and 83 per cent of Reading members supported the merger.

Mr Stangoe said: “It is disappointing that a lot of the comments are based on misinformation and stuff that has been read on the internet rather than on information contained within our proposal.

“I’m not sure people have read our plans properly to understand that it includes a new medical facility. The misinformation about the land is probably the biggest one. It is private land and has been for 110 years. If the development doesn’t go ahead, it doesn’t mean the land would be available for public use.”

He said there was no intention to withdraw for a second time and he hoped the council would see the benefits of the scheme.

“There are a lot of developments going on in Reading but very few that offer what we are offering.”

Richard Stainthorp, a former mayor of Reading said: “Given the amount of objections, it may well be that the committees bow to pressure and refuses it.

“If they have any sense, the developers will then go to appeal and, given current central government policy, will more than likely win.”

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