Battling candidates have weighed in on a hugely unpopular plan to build homes at Reading Golf Club ahead of the local elections next week.

The proposal for 257 homes at Reading Golf Club is one of the most controversial planning applications in Reading’s history, with more than 3,000 objections as well as more than 200 in favour.

The 3,000+ objections is believed to be the highest number of objections Reading Borough Council (RBC) has received for a single application, with the authority expected to decide on the proposal in June.

READ MORE: Homes plan at golf club attracts record backlash with more than 3,000 objections

Reading Golf Club is in Peppard ward, where a double-header election takes place next week.

Of the nine candidates clashing in Peppard at the elections on May 6, the two candidates who receive the most votes will become a councillor, with the double election being due to a councillor leaving her post.

Why will two councillors be elected?

Reading’s 2021 local elections take place next Thursday, May 6, with one councillor to be elected in all 16 wards except for Peppard.

A by-election was triggered when Conservative Peppard ward councillor Clare Grashoff announced she would be stepping down.

As she was not due to stand for election this year, with her fellow Conservative Peppard councillor Jane Stanford-Beale going to the polls this year, there is now a battle for two seats in Peppard to join current councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative).

Peppard ward includes areas to the north and north-east of Caversham namely, including all of Emmer Green, Caversham Park Village and the former Reading Golf Club, which shuts its doors in March, with the club moving to Chazey Heath.

Here is what the councillors had to say

We spoke to Peppard candidates from four of the parties standing in the ward, including one who briefly worked with the golf club on communications around the application, to get their views on the controversial plans.

We have not yet been able to get into contact with Vincent Ruane, a candidate for Reform UK, which was previously the Brexit Party.

 Conservative party candidate Clarence Mitchell said: “I fully recognise and sympathise with the strength of local opposition to the current application.

“As a candidate, of course, I have no influence whatsoever on the outcome of the Planning Applications committee’s forthcoming decision but, to be clear, if elected, I will never support any application that could be detrimental to Emmer Green and the surrounding community.

“I therefore stand fully behind our manifesto commitment to protect green spaces, to oppose unsustainable development and to prioritise and promote brown field development where feasible.

Clarence Mitchell, Conservative

Clarence Mitchell, Conservative

“For further transparency – and for the avoidance of any doubt – long before being selected, I was briefly commissioned by a Reading-based communications consultancy to assist it with some early communications work around the initial application.

“It was a purely professional engagement which has long ceased and which in no way reflected my personal view of the application. Nor have I ever stated my view on the application publicly.

“The people of Peppard Ward can be assured that I will always fight to make sure that the ward remains a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

The other Conservative party candidate is Cllr Stanford-Beale.

Labour Party candidate James Denny said: “In terms of the development as it stands, we have been vocal in opposition to it, supporting the widespread public view which has been obvious both online and on the doorsteps.

“We have nothing against development per se, but this development is not suitable for the local area, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Keep Emmer Green and the thousands of people who have raised their voice.

“The surrounding infrastructure, including shops, roads and schools, are already stretched. This isn’t nimbyism, it’s a genuine concern that the area wouldn’t cope.

James Denny

James Denny

“Apart from that, the area is so picturesque, it would be a crying shame to cover it with houses, when alternative brownfield sites, such as the old Royal Mail sorting office site, are available.

“In terms of any future developments that may be proposed, our view would be to take them objectively, and compare any pros and cons, shoulder to shoulder with the community affected.

“Although we would always consider all angles, the community’s view will be our first and ongoing priority.”

The other Labour candidate is Benjamin Perry.

Green Party candidate Doug Creswell said: “Reading has a desperate need for truly affordable housing. With only slightly more than 20 per cent of the homes being for social rent, this proposed development would do little to address the town’s real needs and would eat up a huge swathe of green space in the process.

“We need a community-led not developer-led approach to housing provision in the UK.”

Doug Creswell, Green Party

Doug Creswell, Green Party

The other Green Party candidate is Sarah McNamara.

READ MORE: Meet your Reading 2021 election candidates: North (Caversham, Mapledurham, Peppard and Thames)

Liberal Democrats candidate Pieter De Boiserie said: “I have personally objected to the current application for development on the grounds of Reading Golf Club.

“We are campaigning on a platform of Go Greener and part of that is protecting the green space we have in our community and increasing the air quality.

“The suggested development would not only reduce the precious green space we have but would offer no green transport solution for any new residents and lead to increased congestion and emissions.

Pieter de Boiserie, Lib Dem

Pieter de Boiserie, Lib Dem

“If elected as councillors, Hilary and I will actively work with the community and listen to local residents to make sure their concerns are heard and views represented on the council.”

The other Lib Dem candidate is Hilary Smart.