The threat - Reading Golf Club’s proposal
Reading Golf Club (RGC) is offering 3.75 hectares of land for inclusion into Reading Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan (DLP). This piece of land fronts onto Kidmore End Road where the clubhouse and the car park is currently. It also stretches back as far as Emmer Green Primary School’s playing fields.
If finally included in the local plan, Emmer Green will lose green space to yet more housing development. That means overloading already full schools, surgeries and roads. Emmer Green’s infrastructure can’t cope.
From plan to masterplan
The land is in the Reading Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan (DLP) on the basis that it is subject to RGC finding land in South Oxfordshire on which to build two new holes and a replacement Clubhouse. The boundary between Reading and South Oxford runs right across the course.
The current situation is that the Reading DLP has been sent to a Government Inspector. Over the next few months, a decision will be made whether the plan is sound and can go forward formally into the council’s Local Plan.
However, the golf club, despite the basis on which their land is being presented, has made it quite clear to its members that their “masterplan” is to relocate to another golf course that they wish to purchase or share with its existing members.
The club’s rationale for wanting to take this action is that they believe that the only way to make the club financially viable, in the medium to long-term, is to provide Clubhouse facilities. These could produce a new income stream from events like weddings and meetings. However, it is perfectly possible for RGC to build such improved facilities on the current site, without selling the entire golf course - the club’s greatest asset.
The lure of the lottery
The club has advised members that a sale will not only allow the relocation to take place. It has also told members to expect a windfall running well into six figures, to be paid out in stages as the development progresses. However, the club is presenting an overly optimistic view of the likelihood of such a massive development being given planning permission by the two local authorities.
Real reasons to say no
Reading Council has stated, in the DLP, that there is limited potential for additional development in Caversham and Emmer Green. This is because the existing infrastructure is inadequate and the impossibility of making any meaningful improvements. They also recognise that the lack of river crossings is also a major problem as most traffic generated by any new developments will travel south into Reading or out to the M4.
Of particular importance are the effects of development on the landscape, heritage and infrastructure of Caversham and Emmer Green. Further details can be found on page 197 of Reading Council’s Pre Submission Local Plan.
Also, it must be borne in mind that the golf club’s proposals are not the only ones that will affect Caversham and Emmer Green. There are several others threatening the area. These include the Gladman Development’s proposal for 245 houses. Near the water tower but just on South Oxfordshire land, it was turned down by SODC. However, the decision is being appealed against, with a final decision due later this year.