Local MP pledges support for campaign against Gladman houses

MP John Howell has pledged to work with Reading East MP Rob Wilson to support the CAGE campaign against 245 unsustainable houses in the Chilterns landscape close to Emmer Green. His support came in a week when South Oxfordshire District Council confirmed the application will probably go before their planning committee on the 17th or 24th May.

At the meeting at Bryant’s Farm, John Howell heard that if the houses are built they will place an intolerable burden on local schools in both Reading as well as South Oxfordshire, where primaries are already struggling to cope with an influx from Reading’s hard-pressed schools. The site would be in the catchment of Shiplake C of E Primary which is already unable to meet demand.

Local health centres have also recently indicated they are unable to cope with hundreds more patients from the development. Dr Ronay of Sonning Common Healthcentre commented to Emmer Green Residents Association that she was ‘most concerned about the strain this development would cause on infrastructure and services locally’. She said that in addition to the strain placed on the health centres, cross border issues would mean some Reading health support services would not be available to the new residents, 40% of whom would be in social housing.

Mr Howell was driven along the narrow lanes around Eye & Dunsden parish. CAGE campaigners pointed out that commuters could expect even longer delays because of the development as it would choke local roads along the route to Sonning bridge.

There’s still time to make your views known on the Gladman application. Just follow this link to comment on the SODC website.

Local planning and roads news

Henley Road collapsing at between ‘Botany Bay’ and Playhatch roundabout

We have heard today from Oxfordshire highways manager David Bullock of a serious deterioration of the A4155 Henley Road between the house called ‘Botany Bay’ and the Playhatch roundabout. The road surface is moving and an embankment failure is possible. In order to relieve the pressure on the road, one-way working with traffic lights has been introduced, with manual control at peak times. Unfortunately, this arrangement is likely to continue whilst a permanent repair is being planned and carried out. The shifting of the road will continue to be monitored in the meanwhile and OCC are working as rapidly as they can to rectify the problem.

Great House temporary car park

The parish council has received a number of complaints about a newly installed car park for the Great House at Frizer’s Farm. A planning application for one year’s use has now been submitted and will shortly be visible on the SODC website. This scheme follows the Great House withdrawing from a plan to build a car park on the Mill island, adjacent to the backwater bridge opposite the Furleigh river bank. The withdrawal was in response to considerable objections being raised at the last meeting of the parish council. A shuttle mini-bus will run to the hotel, dubbed a ‘community park & ride’. Once a planning application is received, the parish council will make its views known to SODC, the planning authority. The Great House is working urgently to find an alternative location on the Sonning side of the river.

Gladman application for 245 houses in Dunsden

The planning officer reports that this contentious application is not likely to go to committee until the end of April or later. Work is being done to deal with Oxfordshire objections about the lack of school places and the results of an archaeological survey which revealed Roman and prehistoric remains. The Parish Council opposes the scheme and is hoping for a good turn-out by the public at the committee meeting. Comments are still being received by SODC.

Tarmac gravel extraction

Soil stripping and the building of a conveyor across Spring Lane starts in April, with gravel extraction beginning towards Shiplake around six months later later. Tarmac are expected to announce a local event later in the year at which they will explain the work. The parish council and Sonning Eye Action Group will monitor the work closely. The consent notice for the work is here.

Development to swamp Eye & Dunsden parish?

The population of Eye and Dunsden could triple if developers are given the green light to build along its border with Emmer Green. Gladman Developments have applied to SODC for outline planning permission for a minimum of 245 houses on land in the parish adjoining Emmer Green.

The village of Dunsden, together with Playhatch and Sonning Eye, between them consist of just 140 houses. There is a church and village hall but no shop, school or health centre in the parish, making the application unsustainable, according to a group of representatives of all the adjoining parishes and residents’ groups that met this week.

There are concerns about the impact on narrow and already overcrowded local roads and about the added pressure the development would place on Sonning bridge.

The housing is proposed for an attractive green field site directly adjoining Emmer Green, with the main access on to the rural part of Peppard Road. At a meeting of local parishes and residents’ associations, strong objections were expressed to breaking into unprotected ancient countryside. Attendees were concerned that the application might eventually lead to piecemeal development linking Emmer Green to Sonning Common which if unchecked could possibly connect as far as Binfield Heath and Shiplake.

The development company Gladman has a turnover of £200m nationwide with a record of active promotion of speculative green field development. The company is working with the Phillimore Estate, which owns over 1,400 hectares of land in the area with potential for tens of thousands more houses.

“We fear this is could be the thin end of an unstoppable development wedge,” said David Woodward, Chairman of Eye & Dunsden Parish. “This beautiful countryside offers Emmer Green a green window on to the Chilterns. Its development would cast a blight on Eye & Dunsden that would overwhelm a much valued landscape for ever.

“This threat should not just be allowed to slip through because of the current weakness of SODC housing supply. It would not meet South Oxfordshire’s housing needs. We urge anyone who cares about this lovely landscape to go on to the SODC website and register their views as quickly as possible.”

SODC planners will consider the application on February 1. Register your comments on the SODC website now.