READING Council is reiterating a number of existing local planning policies which would significantly restrict any potential future development on flood plain at Southcote Farm.

It recently emerged that auctioneers have been instructed by landowners to offer three parcels of land at Southcote Farm, west Reading, for auction.

While marketing literature for prospective buyers emphasised the land was neither Greenbelt nor an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it failed to mention number of key local planning policies, as outlined in the Council’s Local Plan, which are directly relevant to the land, namely:

  • The land is located on identified ‘functional’ floodplain, which means land where water has to flow or be stored in times of flood. In accordance with local planning policy EN18 (Flooding), it is not suitable for any development other than ‘water compatible development.’
  • The land is identified as both a Local Wildlife Site, with significant existing interest, and a Biodiversity Opportunity Area, with potential for enhancement. Planning policy EN12 (Biodiversity and the Green Network) says ‘permission will not be granted for development that negatively affects sites with identified biodiversity interest.’
  • The land forms part of the Kennet and Holy Brook Meadows. Planning policy EN13 (Major Landscape Features), states ‘planning permission will not be granted for any development that would detract from the character or appearance of a Major Landscape Feature.’

As well as the above, any proposed future development would additionally require an assessment of archaeological impact, as it is deemed an area of archaeological significance; consideration of air quality impacts, as it falls within an Air Quality Management Area; and an assessment of cycle links, as two designated routes currently pass through or are adjacent to the land. A number of other more general policies in the plan will also apply.

The Council’s Consumer Protection team formally wrote to the auctioneer last week to put it on notice that it must describe the land fully and accurately in all marketing literature. It additionally reminded the company of the legal status of the land.


Councillor Micky Leng, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Planning, said:

“Southcote and Coley residents of old will remember previous local campaigns to protect this important area of land.

 “The fact is, all three parcels of land are on designated floodplain. That means these meadows play an essential role in helping to absorb floodwater, and local residents were reminded only in January of their importance in helping to divert floodwater away from local homes.

 “The meadows additionally absorb floodwater which would otherwise impact on other parts of Reading, so any potential development on this site has the knock-on effect of limiting the Council’s options for sustainable development in other parts of the town.

 “Reading’s Local Plan clearly outlines several key policies which directly relate to Southcote Farm. Aside from it being on floodplain, it is an important site for Reading in terms of biodiversity and forms an integral part of the Kennet and Holy Brook Meadows.

“I’m pleased the Council’s Consumer Protection team has notified the auctioneer of its legal responsibility to include relevant planning policies in any future marketing literature so that potential buyers are fully aware of the restrictions which are materially relevant to Southcote Farm.”