Reading Golf Club plan approved despite 4,000 objections

A controversial plan to build 223 houses on the Reading golf course has been approved despite more than 4,000 objections, breaking a council record.

At a crucial meeting last night (Wednesday March 2), Reading Borough Council’s planning committee accepted the latest application for the former golf course, located off Kidmore End Road in Emmer Green.

Council Labor Administration representatives, while acknowledging the level of concern from residents, broadly agreed that the development would provide much needed affordable, family-sized housing.

Councilor John Ennis (Labour, Southcote) said: “Thousands of people have spoken out against this, and rightly so.

“But there will be a lot of interest from young families, especially in Caversham, who will be looking at prices, affordability in a very desirable area.

“They will want their families to be there. Local people are interested in these houses.

“They will be better built than most houses in Reading.”

READ MORE: Cosmo in Reading town center could be replaced by 103 apartments

Support for affordable housing was taken up by cllr Ellie Emberson (Labour, Minster).

Now that it has been approved, 67 affordable homes will be part of the development.

Of these, 12 four-bedroom houses, four three-bedroom houses and six two-bedroom houses and two one-bed maisonettes would be made affordable through condominium ownership.

Two four-bedroom houses, 11 three-bedroom houses, 11 two-bedroom houses, five two-bedroom apartments, six one-bedroom apartments and two one-bed cottages would be made affordable through affordable rent.

Cllr Karen Rowland (Labour, Abbey), lamented that the golf course could not be turned into an arboretum or open space, but acknowledged that the land is private and it is up to the developers to ask what they wish .

Ultimately supporting the plan, she said: “The opportunity for open space, the opportunity for real affordable housing, not affordable housing in apartments, is really an amazing thing that we can’t ignore.”

The golf course has been vacant since Reading Golf Club moved to the Caversham course.

READ MORE: More flats and houses built than needed in Reading in past three years

But the plan to build on the Emmer Green golf course proved controversial, as more than 4,000 people submitted objections to it, including Matt Rodda, the Labor MP for Reading East.

Opposition to the development has been led by the Keep Emmer Green campaign, which has accused Fairfax developers of “bullying tactics” by submitting an appeal for a previous 257-home plan that was rejected by the council’s planning committee l ‘last year.

They also staged a protest outside the council offices and spoke at the meeting.

The aerial plan of the Reading Golf Club 223 house plan. Credit: Paul Hewett Chartered Architects

The plan also met with opposition from opposition Conservative and Green members of the council.

Cllr Paul Carnell (Conservator, Peppard) said: ‘With parking for 442 vehicles there is potential for 900 or more vehicles per day.

“Each will be along Kidmore End Road, a small local road with parking on one side, there is a potential recipe for chaos there.

“After my visit, I spent about 15 minutes queuing at The Last Crumb junction, that’s 15 minutes of cars sitting there, spewing out fumes, not realizing anything, just pollution. Development can only make things worse.

Clare Grashoff, a former Tory councillor, said: ‘This is not the reading our community wants. This is not the reading you councilors signed up for when you declared a climate emergency.

“It is not acceptable to turn Reading upside down and destroy 12 hectares of beautiful parkland and trees.”

Meanwhile, cllr Josh Williams (Green, Park) has argued that the 223 houses requested are not in line with the Reading Local Plan, which called for 90 to 130 houses for the site.

He said, “If the developer doesn’t want to comply with the local plan, they can sell it to someone who does.”

You can see tweet coverage from the meeting here:

Numerous conditions were imposed on the development by the council, which include investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care, open space and recreational facilities, and improving highways.

The development of the golf course will be the subject of future planning applications as it received only cursory consent at the meeting.

Comments are closed.