Golf club withdraws plans for 260 new homes… for now

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PLANS to build 260 homes on Reading Golf Club in Emmer Green have been withdrawn.

The club’s proposal attracted more than 2,000 objections, which is thought to be a record for a single application received by Reading Borough Council.

However, it says it will submit a new application for outline planning permission in the new year.

It is working with developer Fairfax to deliver “family and affordable houses”, a medical centre and public green space.

At the same time, it is to merge with Caversham Heath Golf Club at Mapledurham as both have been losing money.

Manager Gary Stangoe said the club needed more time to consider the responses.

He said: “Everything remains on track with our planning application and the club is continuing to engage constructively with Reading Borough Council over its progress.

“Although we had hoped the application might be considered by the planning committee in January, it became clear that the deadline wouldn’t be possible given the necessarily extensive responses and assessment work involved and the unique time and workload pressures everyone is facing during the current pandemic. As a result, with the council’s agreement, the original application was withdrawn and a further application is now being submitted to ensure that enough time is available for it to be appropriately considered at a future committee meeting.”

The club, off Kidmore End Road, intends to leave the site in March. Plans for a new clubhouse at Caversham Heath were approved by South Oxfordshire District Council last month.

The merger will involve rebranding the two clubs as “The Caversham”.

Mr Stangoe said: “While the club will be leaving its present site by March, we remain committed to ensuring that our plans will leave a legacy for the benefit of Emmer Green and the surrounding communities.”

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

About a third of the 109 acres of land has already been earmarked for 90 to 120 homes by the council and is included in its local plan.

The other two-thirds of the course is in South Oxfordshire and has not been included in the district council’s local plan.

Residents, campaign groups and Reading East Labour MP Matt Rodda have opposed the plans, saying they would lead to more congestion and put pressure on local services as well as spoil a greenfield site.

Mr Rodda said he was concerned that the club intended to submit a new application.

He said: “The number of objections shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with building on that bit of land.

“My main concerns are about the impact on transport and air pollution, which are really serious issues for people living in the area.

“This would be a disaster for transport. People living along that road would have to put up with much higher levels of pollution and
congestion.

“It is Labour policy to oppose car-driven schemes and there is limited scope for public transport.

“The proposal included just over 600 parking spaces and there is a bus stop outside the golf course but there is already lots of traffic and no dedicated bus lane.

“It is a wholly regrettable planning application and I urge the golf club to rethink the development. Fundamentally, it is in the wrong place.” A survey carried out by Mr Rodda earlier this year found that 81 per cent of the 1,712 people who took part were “very concerned” about the plans, citing an increase in traffic, pollution and demand on local services as well as loss of green space and potential disruption.

Campaign group Keep Emmer Green said the development would be unsustainable and overload local infrastructure and that it would consider taking legal advice if the plans were approved.

Member Ian Morgan, who lives in Highdown Hill Road, said the withdrawal of the application was a “small triumph” but could not be celebrated as the club hd proposed to submit a revised version.

He said: “The club will claim that they are listening to local residents but it is clear that after their discussions with the council their plans were set to be rejected.

“We are in contact with Reading Borough Council to understand the discussions that led to this decision and would encourage local residents to sign up to the Keep Emmer Green mailing list to stay informed of the revised plans.

“We remain committed to keeping Emmer Green for future generations and thank local residents for their support.”


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