A campaign group ‘is still bitter’ over the approval of hundreds of homes being built on Reading Golf Course, despite the developers’ bid for more homes being withdrawn.

This Spring, developers Fairfax and Reading Golf Club won approval to build 223 homes on the old Reading Golf Course off Kidmore End Road in Emmer Green.

A previous plan for 257 homes on the site was rejected last July, but the developers appealed against the decision to the  Government planning inspectorate.

But recently the developers have abandoned the appeal, withdrawing it from the Government appeals process.

READ MORE: Reading Golf Course plan for 257 homes appeal withdrawn

Now, the Keep Emmer Green campaign, which has opposed the plans since the outset, are still determined to fight on.

A member of the Keep Emmer Green (KEG) campaign said: “This is still a very bitter subject for us.

“The whole thing is a travesty.

“We will be taking the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

“The council have not followed their own processes. I can’t understand how an experienced planning officer can recommend it being rejected the first time, for a second plan with minor adjustments to be recommended for approval.

“Why was there such a sudden U-turn?

“We think the second officer’s report was a whitewash.”

READ MORE: Hugely unpopular plan for 257 homes on Reading Golf Course refused

The first plan for 257 homes, was recommended for refusal by planning officer Susanna Bedford in 2021.

However, the second plan, for 223 homes, was recommended for approval by planning officer Matt Burns prior to the planning committee agreeing to it in March.

The KEG member argued that the council was swayed to approve because it would benefit from millions in developer contributions, including £557,500 of investment in open space and leisure facilities in Emmer Green, and £550,000 of investment in local healthcare facilities.

READ MORE: Planning officer recommends approval for Reading Golf Course as applicant set to pay millions in developer contributions

He explained that the group is considering involving the Local Government Ombudsman because they believe the council broke procedure when approving the 223 home plan.

The council has already received a complaint about the process of the approval through its complaint procedures.

Responding to allegations that it did not follow correct procedures, a council spokesperson said:  “The Council’s Monitoring Officer is the statutory officer responsible for ensuring that the Council complies with its duties.

“Upon receiving the complaint after the committee meeting he conducted a thorough investigation.

“The Monitoring Officer concluded that the determination of the planning application fully conformed to all legal and constitutional requirements and no malpractice by councillors or officers was identified in either presenting the committee report or reaching a decision.”

Reading Chronicle: What the 223 home plan for Reading Golf Club would look like from above if built. Credit: Paul Hewett Chartered ArchitectsWhat the 223 home plan for Reading Golf Club would look like from above if built. Credit: Paul Hewett Chartered Architects

The approval achieved this March was on outline, with the appearance of the development being submitted in a future Reserved Matter application.

Another member of KEG stated that the campaign will now focus on the Reserved Matters application and the numerous conditions which have to be met before the successful application can proceed.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has attempted to receive a statement from the developers Fairfax and its planning agents Pegasus Group but so far has received no response.