A controversial plan to build homes and a new Lidl that has already been opposed by hundreds of people has been submitted in Lower Earley.

A developer, Lower Earley Properties Ltd, has submitted a plan to build 43 homes and a new Lidl supermarket on land off Meldreth Way.

But hundreds of neighbours are already in opposition to the plan, fearing the destruction to the habitat in the area.

The land is called Swallows Meadow, and is currently used by walkers. Contractors for Lower Earley Properties caused an uproar in November last year when a number of trees were cut down in the meadow.

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This sparked a petition to bar any development on Swallows Meadow which has received 1,462 signatures.

Now plans for the site have been officially submitted to Wokingham Borough Council, which Lower Earley falls under.

Campaigners are still fuming over the ‘destruction’ caused by the ‘deforestation’ in November, and have resolved to fight the plan.

Councillor Clive Jones, a Liberal Democrat representative in Lower Earley, said: “I will look at it very carefully and we will find reasons in planning law why it should not be built. You can’t just say, 'I don’t want it because I don’t want it.'

“There will be a handful of people who will say we want another supermarket, and there are a handful who will say, ‘yep, we need more houses’ but the housing that’s being proposed… I don’t think it’s the type of housing we need in Earley. We need one and two bedroom homes and bungalows for older people to downsize into. We will be opposing this to the best of our ability.”

He added: “We don’t need another supermarket, Earley is pretty well off for supermarkets, and we don’t need another 43 houses there. What we need is the green space kept and maintained.

“We don’t want it and we don’t need it, that’s the bottom line.”

READ MORE: Major plans for a new Lidl supermarket - but not everyone is happy with the location

Swallows Meadow used to be owned by the University of Reading, before it was sold to Lower Earley Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of the large Jansons Property development firm.

Recalling the clearing of the site, Cllr Jones said: “The first that we knew about the university selling the land was when contractors arrived on Swallows Meadow and started cutting down trees. We asked the contractors what they were doing, they said we’re tidying up the area because we bought the land. What they were doing was destroying the wildlife and the habitat there.

“There was some real destruction."

Reading Chronicle:

Cllr Jones said: “There are muntjac deer, badgers, birds, rabbits there. I asked their senior contractor why they were destroying the habitat of the animals – they said ‘we did an ecological survey’. Although there weren’t badger sets there at the time, they returned to the site after the devastation by the contract workers.”

Jansons Property has hit back by highlighting planned ecological enhancements and the benefits of the scheme.

The plans involve planting over 100 new trees and features to support wildlife, including artificial bat roosting, bird nest boxes and swift bricks. The development would also feature a woodland themed play area and a landscaped public open space.

The Lidl on the site would have provide 40 new jobs, and feature a bakery, customer toilets and 115 parking spaces, including nine parent and child spaces, seven dedicated disabled spaces, and electric vehicle charging facilities.

The 43 homes have a mix of one to four bedrooms, with 40 per cent of them being affordable housing, including 12 social rent homes and five shared ownership homes. The housing would be provided by Sovereign Housing.

Andrew Fallon, Head of Land at Sovereign Housing, said: “The plans for 43 new homes at Lower Earley will provide much-needed housing for local


“We’re looking forward to providing a mix of affordable rented and shared ownership homes on this sustainable and deliverable site.”

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James Mitchell, Lidl GB’s Regional Head of Property, said: “We are delighted that the plans for a new Lidl store in Lower Earley have been submitted. The new store is set to create around 40 new positions which would be fantastic for the local area, delivering our high quality and affordable produce to even more of the community.”

Andy Jansons, Managing Director of parent company Jansons Property, commented: “I’m pleased to welcome Sovereign Housing to the scheme. Having both Lidl and Sovereign Housing on board is a big vote of confidence in our plans and shows that they are deliverable.

“I’m grateful to everyone who took part in our public consultation and believe our plans represent a great opportunity for to deliver new homes and investment in Lower Earley.”