Campaigners and a developer have become embroiled in a showdown over a plan to build homes and a new Lidl in Lower Earley.

The developer, Lower Earley Properties Ltd, wants to build 43 homes and a Lidl supermarket on land affectionately known as Swallows Meadow.

The meadow is located off Meldreth Way in Lower Earley.

While the developer and supporters of the plan have highlighted the economic benefits and the prospect of the new Lidl supermarket, opponents of the plan say it would lead to an unacceptable loss of greenspace and wildlife at the meadow.

READ MORE: Fury over controversial plans for new Lidl and homes in Lower Earley

The developers have sent “hundreds and hundreds” of letters to neighbours encouraging them to ‘show their support’ by emailing

Supporters of the plan have supplied their names, street addresses and postcodes, and in return, the following statement has been uploaded to the comments section on Wokingham Borough Council’s planning website:

“I am writing in SUPPORT of the planning application for Land off Meldreth Way in Lower Earley. I support the application as it will deliver a new Lidl store, along with homes and jobs for local people.”

More than 180 people have written in support of the application, according to the developers.

Reading Chronicle: The form in a letter that neighbours have been sent in Lower Earley. Credit: Lower Earley Properties Ltd / Clive JonesThe form in a letter that neighbours have been sent in Lower Earley. Credit: Lower Earley Properties Ltd / Clive Jones

However, the opponents of the plan have slammed the tactic.

One commenter complained that the planning portal has been “spammed by identical statements of support” for the application.

Councillor Clive Jones, leader of the Wokingham Liberal Democrats, has strongly opposed the application.

He said: “The developer is throwing a huge amount of money at this planning application and it shows there’s not a particularly level playing field. We don’t have the resources to fight it. It must have cost them thousands to send out those leaflets.

“Hundreds and hundreds of houses have received a very biased leaflet through the post. You can express support by filling in the leaflet but you can’t say that you don’t want the development.”

For their part, campaigners have gathered 1,468 signatures robustly opposing any future development of Swalows Meadow.

One objector wrote: “We do not need more houses in Lower Earley, especially not in that small area.

“We do not need more food stores in Lower Earley.  We just want to be left to enjoy our quiet lives in Lower Earley, which is why we love living around here, and which we have all worked hard for and to retain some small bit of green area.

“Sometimes if you are lucky to be out early in the morning or later in the evening, you can sometimes see animals, such as foxes, deer and badgers, running across the road. These animals plus others lived here before the large development of Lower Earley into a housing area sadly it looks like the council is set to turn all green areas into concrete, noise and more pollution.”

A spokesperson for Lower Earley Properties Ltd commented: “We are delighted that support is growing for our planning application. Over 180 people have written in support of the application to date – with over 100 received in the past week alone.

“Whilst there will be those who continue to oppose the application, this response shows there are many who recognise the benefits including improved retail choice for local shoppers, the creation of hundreds of new jobs and 43 new homes – 40% of which will be affordable.

“We will continue to engage with the local community throughout the planning process and look forward to Wokingham Borough Council making a decision on the application in the coming months.”

Reading Chronicle: An impression of what homes may look like in Meldreth Way, Lower Earley. Credit: DHA Architecture LtdAn impression of what homes may look like in Meldreth Way, Lower Earley. Credit: DHA Architecture Ltd

Although a public consultation on the plan ended on Friday, June 18, you can still write a comment about the plan by typing reference 211686 into Wokingham Borough Council’s planning portal:

Contractors for the developers angered hundreds of neighbours in last November when Swallows Meadow was ‘deforested’ for what the developers called ‘routine landscape maintenance work’.

At the time, a spokesperson for the developers said that established trees in Swallows Meadow were protected from being cut down.