Local Groups to meet to air house building concerns

Local Groups to meet to air house building concerns

A number of local groups and societies have arranged a public meeting to voice their concerns about the South East Regional Plan (SERP) and to highlight some proposed planning applications that they think are bad examples of planning that could become common-place in order to satisfy the demands of the SERP.

The groups have been waiting for the consultation papers on the SERP from the South East Regional Assembly (SERA) which are supposed to be issued to all households in the South East so they can respond by 15 April. Most of the groups say the consultation papers have not yet been received by their members. For those lucky enough to have received the papers, they then find that the multiple-choice questions have answers that, they say, are too general and ambiguous to reflect their views of the Plan. This leaves a consultation process that does not alleviate their concerns about future developments in or near Reading that will result from the proposed SERP.

The groups claim that examples of the poor planning include the proposed Kennet Valley Park development which has already been the subject of wide promotion by Prudential, the consortium leaders and a rumoured further development of Green Park, Reading, a business park, to include housing. Both of these developments lack suitable infrastructure support hence putting services and capacity at risk and they are on the functional floodplain south of Reading, making Reading and the local area more vulnerable to flooding.

David Hancock, Chairman of the Kennet Valley Preservation Association, a local residents Group said ?There is no question that Reading and Thames Valley needs more houses as demand exceeds supply, but the proposed Kennet Valley Park is a prime example of bad development in a completely inappropriate location. It is sited in a highly congested area with inadequate roads and services such as hospitals and right in the middle of the functional flood plain. It is this flood plain that has prevented Reading flooding and it is just crazy to build 7500 houses in such a place. We do not want to be the next Carlisle, but this is of little concern to the developer who will have long gone when residents are floating around in boats with their houses under several feet of water. The Environment Agency is opposed to this development which shows the clear and present threat of flooding?.

Another major concern about the developments is their impact on wildlife. The area to the south of Reading is part of the Kennet Valley, a haven for wildlife. Colin Wilson, Chairman of the Reading Ornithological Club commented ?We know Prudential are aware of the wildlife value of this area. They seem to be planning to replicate the environment somewhere else and somehow persuade the birds and creatures to move their homes where they want them to. It sounds very risky when there are so many valuable bird habitats at stake. One of the most important heronries in the whole of Berkshire is involved, as well as valuable species like Nightingales and some birds specially protected by law such as Kingfishers and Cetti?s Warblers. At the moment, Prudential won?t say anything to us about how they intend to achieve their plan so we?re just very sceptical. There is a proposal to secure the meadows mainly to the north of the canal but nothing we?ve seen replaces the heronry or the other habitat lost.?

The meeting, at 7.15 on 31 March at the Council Chamber will be attended by Martin Salter MP who has publicly stated his objection to Kennet Valley Park, Royce Longton, Leader of West Berkshire Council and The Environment Agency, plus others with knowledge of the area and the planning issues involved. The aim is to encourage debate on the issues so the public know how to respond to the South East Plan consultation and to the planning applications when they are submitted in the near future.

Notes to Editors

  1. Kennet Valley Preservation Association was established in September 2004 by local residents who live on the functional flood plain of the River Kennet to the west of Reading. Its purpose is to monitor progress of any planned developments in the Kennet Valley and its environs and to protect the interests of local residents and the wider community in respect of these developments. The association has over 40 households as members and holds regular meetings.
  2. Reading Ornithological Club was established in 1947 and is established to advance public education in the study of wild birds, their habitats and their conservation in the Reading area. The Club has over 200 members and holds regular meetings. Further details, including articles on the subject of Kennet Valley Park are on www.theroc.org.uk
  3. The Kennet Valley Park is a proposal for the development of up to 7500 houses in areas to the south of Reading. Up to 2000 houses are planned between 2011 and 2016 with the remainder in the following two decades.
  4. The proposal includes the creation of a ?nature? park between Reading and the housing development of around 1300 acres. The ?Meadows? will be protected in a trust arrangement for which details have not yet been published. The trust would own the land in perpetuity.
  5. Details can be found on www.kennetvalleypark.com
  6. The South East England Regional Assembly launched its South East Plan consultation on 24 January 2005. According to the SEERA website www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan/consultation/programme.html a copy of the ?Your shout? document will be delivered to every household in the South East in time to respond for the end of the consultation on April 15th.


For further details or comment please refer to:

David Hancock, Chairman, Kennet Valley Preservation Association, 1 Kennet Cottages, BURGHFIELD, Berkshire, RG30 3XJ. Tel. 07764 354 116. Email David.X.Hancock@oracle.com

Colin Wilson, Chairman, Reading Ornithological Club, Blakeney, St Catherine?s Road, Frimley green, Camberley, Surrey, GU16 9NP. Tel. 01252 837411 or Mobile 07899 066687. Email colin.wilson@theroc.org.uk.

Colin Wilson –

21 March 2005