One of the most controversial applications in Reading’s history looks set to be refused by the council next week due to concerns over lost open space, a lack of identity and poor environment standards.

Plans to build 257 homes at the former Reading Golf Club site in Emmer Green are set for the vote at next Wednesday’s (July 21) Planning Applications committee, with officers recommending the proposal be refused.

The plans have been met with more 3,000 objections, the highest number in Reading Borough Council (RBC) history.

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Planning officers have recommended the committee refuse the plan, which has been submitted by Reading Golf Club in conjunction with Fairfax and Vistry, highlighting five concerns.

They say the proposals will lead to the loss of a significant amount of open space to homes, gardens, roads and driveways.

Describing the plans for the site as fragmented and eroded by roads and providing poor-quality communal spaces, they say the developer would need to demonstrate suitable alternative off-site open space could be provided to outweigh this harm.

The design has also been criticised, with officers saying the uniformity of the layout leads to repetitious groupings of buildings across the site failing to create a development with its own identity.

Other criticisms include the impact on trees, failure to suitably enhance or retain a continuous green link for ecology through the site and net loss of biodiversity.

Officers say the plan also fails to achieve zero carbon homes standards and improve sustainable transport.

They also criticised the “unacceptable urbanisation on the settlement edge, blurring the distinction between urban and rural to the detriment of the pleasant landscape character of this part of Reading”.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED The old Reading Golf Club sitePICTURED The old Reading Golf Club site

Another criticism is on the lack of improvement to the Peppard Road/Kiln Road/Caversham Park Road junction to mitigate the impact of the development.

The provision of family homes, 35 per cent of which would be affordable, has been praised, but officers believe any benefits are outweighed by the harmful aspects of the development.

Reading Golf Club moved to Caversham Heath Golf Club in April and says it “remains determined to leave a lasting legacy on its land for the benefit of the communities of Emmer Green and beyond”.

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Manager Gary Stangoe said development will bring much-needed family homes with gardens in the north of Reading, a new medical facility in Emmer Green and public access to land north of Cucumber Wood for the time in more than 100 years.

The public space will include open space, footpaths, cycleways, allotments and leisure facilities such as foot golf, disc golf and a café.

But campaigners Keep Emmer Green and thousands of residents have slammed the plans in record numbers, calling it “opportunistic” and “devastating”, with Reading East MP Matt Rodda also voicing his opposition.