Plans for hundreds of homes at Reading Golf Club are moving ahead more than a year after the controversial development was first approved.

A plan to build up to 223 homes on the golf course in Caversham was approved despite 4,000 objections in March last year.

However, the proposal at that time was only in its outline stage, with further details the subject of future planning approval. Once permission had been achieved, the applicants Fairfax sold the plan to Vistry Thames Valley.

Recently, details of the development submitted by Vistry were decided on by Reading Borough Council’s planning committee.

The most contentious part of the meeting was the consideration of the plans for the Construction Method Statement which had to be approved so that work can start.

The statement lays out how construction will take place, including the demolition of existing buildings and construction traffic management.

Serious concerns were raised over traffic delays near the entrance to the site at the junction of Kidmore End Road and Chalgrove Way.

Reading Chronicle:

Helen Lambert, the chair of the Caversham and District Residents Association, called traffic “a toxic mix” due to narrowness of the road, its presence on bus routes and as a way to nearby schools.

She argued it is “critical” that strong measures are put in place so that traffic issues are not exacerbated.

Councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative, Emmer Green) called for a decision to be delayed, questioning whether Vistry’s traffic management plan would work in practice.

Representatives of Vistry ensured the committee construction deliveries would take place outside school drop-off times and a manager will be on site to address any issues

The construction method statement was ultimately given the go ahead.

The details of the development were considered in stages during the meeting, with the construction methods being considered first, then details of design, energy supply and more.

There were also frustration over the reversal of a promise for all the homes to be heated through air source heat pumps.

Although air source heat pumps were specified when the plan was approved on outline, Vistry reduced that to 81 homes on the advice of energy provider SSEN, with the rest being heated through gas boilers.

Cllr Josh Williams (Green, Park) said:  “The missing air source heat pumps is a failure of the original developer to check what was possible on the site.

“That developer and that application made promises the they simply couldn’t keep.”

He argued the outline plan was unviable, saying: “Perhaps I was right to vote against it after all?”

Cllr Williams also lamented that the committee’s ‘hands are tied’ due to the approval of the outline plan, and raised fears gas boilers in the new homes “could be burning for decades.”

However, a condition was added that capacity for installing air source heat pumps be regularly reviewed. Another change included the housing mix, with Vistry changing the plan to provide more three bedroom and less two bedroom homes.

Reading Chronicle: The consented vs the proposed housing mix for the 223 home Reading Golf Course development. Credit: Pegasus / Vistry Thames Valley

Meanwhile, the proposed appearance of the development was praised.

Cllr Jan Gavin (Labour, Caversham) said: “I was absolutely delighted to see the layout, the plan, the appearance.

“I think this is a high quality development, a like the character areas, I like the different style of brick and colours.

“It creates a unity but yet distinct areas.”

Reading Chronicle: The approved street scene for part of the 223 home development at Reading Golf Club. Credit: ECE ArchitectureThe approved street scene for part of the 223 home development at Reading Golf Club. Credit: ECE Architecture (Image: ECE Architecture)

Ultimately, all the detailed plans were approved by the planning committee on March 29, with Green cllr Williams voting against details relating to the energy policy.

You can view the approved applications by typing the references into the council’s planning portal:

  • 230024 – Construction Method Statement
  • 221312 – changes to housing mix, energy policy and more
  • 220930 – appearance