Arguments continue to rage over plans for a new Lidl and homes in Lower Earley.

Recently, the developers and opponents of the plan have clashed over dualling opinion surveys which ask people what they think of the plans, specifically over whether they want the new Lidl.

The first survey, conducted by the developers Lower Earley Properties Ltd, asked residents whether they supported its plans to build a Lidl and 43 homes on land off Meldreth Way in Lower Earley.

However, the location of the scheme is controversial, as the supermarket and homes will be built on land affectionately known as Swallows Meadow.

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During their survey of neighbours opinions, Lower Earley Properties managed to gather 662 messages of support, particularly for the proposed new Lidl at the site. Of those, 401 were single signed messages of support, and 261 were double signed messages of support.

The developers received 117 forms expressing objections to the plans.

The responses of the survey have been submitted to support the planning application.

At the time the developers survey was issued, it was pilloried by councillors who objected to the plan. Councillor Clive Jones, the leader of the Wokingham Liberal Democrats and representative of Hawkedon ward in Lower Earley accusing the survey of being biased.

The developers survey has also been lambasted on the public Facebook group the Earley Residents Discussion Board, which has over 11,000 members and is regularly used by residents of the suburban town.

A competing public opinion poll made by Facebook user Stewart Campbell, asks: Do you want a new Lidl to be built on Swallows Meadow, Lower Earley?

In this poll, 518 people voted ‘No I don’t want a new Lidl to be built on Swallows Meadow’ and 159 people voted ‘Yes, I want a new Lidl to be built on Swallows Meadow’.

Yet the Facebook poll has not been officially submitted to the council. Mary Fletcher, commenting on Facebook, said: “Have you sent your survey to the Planning Department to be taken into consideration in the Planning process?”

Although the Facebook poll does not hold official weight, Cllr Carl Doran (Independent, Bulmershe & Whitegates) pointed out that it can be included in public comments of support of objection that can be added to the planning application.

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You can observe the full plans by typing reference 211686 into Wokingham Borough Council’s planning portal: .

Celebrating the responses received to their petition, a spokesperson for Lower Earley Properties Ltd commented: “We are delighted with the response from the local community. Over 600 people have made clear they want Wokingham Borough Council to say yes to improved retail choice, hundreds of new jobs and 43 new homes – 40 per cent of which will be affordable.

“We will continue to engage with the local community throughout the planning process and look forward to the 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

A spokesperson for Lidl GB added: “We are very excited with our plans to build a new Lidl store. It will be fantastic to invest in Lower Early and deliver new jobs for the area.

“Following an incredible amount of support from the local community, we would like to take this opportunity to thank residents for their continued support and feedback so far. We will continue to work closely with all parties involved and look forward to a decision in due course.”

The plans for the 43 homes and new Lidl have proven controversial after Swallows Meadow was ‘deforested’ by contractors last November, prompting hundreds of neighbours to sign a petition condemning the developers actions.

Reading Chronicle: Neighbours and Liberal Democrats protesting the 'deforestation' at Swallows Meadow. Credit: Wokingham Liberal DemocratsNeighbours and Liberal Democrats protesting the 'deforestation' at Swallows Meadow. Credit: Wokingham Liberal Democrats

The scheme has also been recommended for refusal by Earley Town Council’s planning committee.

Referring to the Lidl store, the council’s consultation letter states: “The proposed food store would destroy the green corridor character with a visible commercial use in a prominent location, comprising a building, with significant hard paved areas to the frontage of this part of Lower Earley Way.

“The building and parking would be visible to traffic using Lower Earley Way and Meldreth Way, disrupting the continuous visual function and amenity of the existing green corridor.”

There are currently four Lidl stores in Reading, with locations in Oxford Road, Bath Road, Basingstoke Road in Whitley and Headley Road in Woodley town centre.