We thought we would update everybody with a couple of recent planning applications which you might like to respond to. Both these applications can be viewed online using the Wokingham Borough Planning Portal at http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-application/search-planning-applications/ – enter the application number into the search box and the application and all relevant documents will be shown.
Firstly we have application 153358, which is a full planning application for a change of use of the old Spar and Post Office on Venning Road from a shop to become the new home for the local Army Cadet Force whose existing facilities are being closed along with the rest of the operational parts of the Garrison. If you recall the Spar and Post Office was closed at 24 hours notice back in the summer of 2013 leaving the village with no Post Office at all. Whilst on the one hand it is good that there are plans to reuse the building, which has become a bit of an eyesore since the sudden closure, reopening the shop and Post Office would be of much more benefit to the local community.
The application is factually inaccurate in a number of places, for example incorrectly describing the shop as being a branch of Londis rather than Spar, and suggesting that the shop was closed as part of the staggered closure of the Garrison as being commercially unviable which suggests a lot more forward planning than the no notice overnight closure that actually occurred when all operations were moved to a new site within the secure area of the Garrison, a site which again has now been closed. Comments on the application are open until February 1st.
The other application is 153486, and is an application for a scoping opinion for a development of 200 houses from Reading Football Club for the Hogwood Park site. Whilst this is not any sort of application to build as yet, it clearly shows what the football club are wanting to do once they move to their new site on Mole Road.
As you may know, Hogwood Park is outside the SDL boundary, and whilst the football club tried to have the SDL boundary moved to include their land this was rejected by a planning inspector. However they’re trying again. This time proposing to swap part of the land in Hogwood Park with the land designated to be the playing fields of the new school which lies within the SDL boundary. Of course this isn’t some generous offer to allow Crest Nicholson to reduce the density of the existing housing plans, this is a cynical attempt to increase the proposed housing in the development by 10% and try to squeeze value out of the land Reading Football Club has been clearly told is not within the strategic development location. The site was proposed as one location for the new school, and for students from Finchampstead is much more accessible than the adjacent site selected, but Reading Football Club refused to play ball, now we know why. This area is already taking the largest of the four SDL’s, and with concerns already about increased traffic what will be the effect of increasing the number of houses on the Garrison development by 10% just to satisfy the greed of Reading Football Club and their owners?
As mentioned above, this is a scoping opinion, so the council does not normally take comments on such an application, however writing to the council about the proposal at this early stage will certainly give the council an indication of local feeling as and when Reading Football Club attempt a full application.