A church accused of breaching planning regulations and causing four homes to flood has hit back at criticism – as the council says its investigating.

The Gate Community Church is building a new church and community centre in The Meadway in Tilehurst but has been accused of disrupting a flood defence put in place to protect homes in Keswick Close.

Four properties were swamped with water with belongings washed out into the street after a downpour in late March.

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said it took the issue seriously and said an enforcement investigation was ongoing.

Resident Dave Jacob accused The Gate church of raising the ground level and endangering the flood alleviation scheme without permission.

He said historically, his street has been flood-free since Thames Water installed flood defences but claims they were disrupted this year as part of the church’s building works.

He said: “During the last eight years Keswick Close, which has had a long history of flooding, has been completely dry through periods of extremely bad weather because of the flood alleviation scheme, which has worked perfectly.”

But he said this came to an end in March when a period of heavy rain left four homes underwater. He said he strongly believed it was linked to the construction being carried out at the site of the new church.

READ MORE: Details application for new church in Tilehurst among plans submitted

Mr Jacob said: “All their furnishings were out on the street. The only that’s changed during this eight year period is the groundworks which have taken place directly above the tanks that make the flood alleviation scheme.”

Sir Alok Sharma, Conservative MP for Reading West, is understood to have visited the flood victims in March.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The Council is aware of the concerns of some residents living in Keswick Close regarding the development at The Gate Church and we are investigating.

“Officers have attended meetings with residents, ward councillors and the local MP to hear their concerns.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we take issues like this very seriously, but at this stage we cannot comment further on an on-going enforcement investigation.”

Reading Chronicle: Proposed elevations for The Gate Church at 384 The Meadway, Tilehurst. Credit: CPL ArchitectsProposed elevations for The Gate Church at 384 The Meadway, Tilehurst. Credit: CPL Architects

Gareth Owen, the associate minister of The Gate Church, has hit back at the allegations and said an independent inspector blamed back-up in the sewers for causing the recent floods.

He said: “We have had several visits from Reading Building Control, the planning enforcement officers and the planning officer.

“The feedback we have received from those visits is that we are building in line with the planning permission we have been given.”

He added: “We are seeking to work with our local neighbours to alleviate concerns where they exist and it is reasonable to do so.”

The church and community centre, which was first approved in 2019, is near competition, with an opening date set for this summer.

Mr Owen said: “As the church moves into our new building over the summer we are excited to continue serving the community in Tilehurst which we have done since the 1960’s.”

Thames Water was contacted for comment.