Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Fear of urban sprawl rises with plan for more homes

PLANS have been drawn up for 39 new homes on the edge of Kidmore End parish.

It comes only two weeks after the parish council raised concerns about “urban sprawl” from Reading swallowing the parish.

Sunny Nahal, from Chiswick, has applied for planning permission to develop 20,000 sq m of land off Highdown Avenue, Tokers Green, which is part of Kidmore End parish and South Oxfordshire.

A planning statement by Hogarth Architects, of London, says that while the site is in open countryside it is immediately adjacent to the perimeter of Emmer Green.

It says Reading is “a sustainable settlement which provides a full range of opportunities for shopping, recreation, employment and housing”.

The statement continues: “The immediate area of Emmer Green may be considered to be less sustainable than the city centre, however the key consideration is whether the settlement is sustainable, not necessarily whether all facilities are within walking distance from a given location.”

The parish council says it understands that the occupiers of the proposed houses would seek to use services provided by Reading Borough Council, save for refuse collection and the allocation of school places.

However, it objects to the application because South Oxfordshire District Council can demonstrate it has a 5.4-year housing land supply.

The council says: “There is no measurable unmet housing demand in this parish or within South Oxfordshire and a neighbourhood development plan is being devised for the parish and this application is therefore premature.”

Residents on either side of the council boundary have objected.

Catherine Middleton, of Tokers Green, said: “As the names of both places imply, green spaces are vital to these areas in order to maintain their character and to sustain the sense of space which separates the sprawl of Reading from continuing into South Oxfordshire.

“Highdown Avenue is a private road which has a wonderful sense of community and where many children and families play and congregate after school.

“The impact of traffic and noise would alter the area completely and make this quiet avenue a rat run.

“Schools and doctors’ surgeries in the area are already oversubscribed and this large development does not have the infrastructure to be supported.”

She added: “The fields maintain a diverse range of flora and fauna.”

Wendy Fiddy, of Gravel Hill, Emmer Green, said: “Any further development in the Highdown Avenue/Highdown Hill/Gravel Hill area would add to the already overloaded transport network.

“Any further traffic from the north to Reading over the two Thames bridges would add to the already saturated access roads in Caversham.”

The district council’s forestry officer Matt Gulliford has also objected.

He said: “The density of the proposed development would result in the complete site clearance of all vegetation, topsoil and the loss of the trees.

“Again, due to the density, there would be no space for any significant landscape planting needed to soften the prominent built form.”

Last month, Kidmore End parish chairwoman Sue Biggs wrote to district council leader Jane Murphy to complain about two sites in the parish — Palmer’s Riding Stables, off Peppard Road, Emmer Green, and Reading Golf Club — being added to the council’s new local plan as potential development sites.

The district council will make a decision on Mr Nahal’s application by October 1.

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