What is Keep Emmer Green?
Keep Emmer Green (KEG) is a campaign group formed by local residents from Emmer Green, Caversham, Caversham Park Village and villages in South Oxfordshire bordering the northern boundaries of Reading Borough
Why Keep Emmer Green?
We believe that any significant residential development on green space in Emmer Green and the surrounding areas of South Oxfordshire will be unsustainable
If built, any substantial housing development will
Increase traffic chaos on local roads adding to the high pollution and congestion that we already experience in Caversham and over the river crossings into Reading
Stretch local services beyond the limit. Schools and doctors' surgeries are already at peak capacity
Deprive local residents of irreplaceable green space
Destroy the valuable ‘green lung’ benefits that trees and green spaces give to the environment
Our biggest 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 master-plan
The land was originally included in the Reading Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan (DLP) on the basis of it being 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 was sent to a Government Inspector in October 2018 who then recommended modifications to the wording of the proposal. In June 2019 the modifications were made available to the public for further comment over a 6 week period. RBC’s final Local Plan document, taking into account the observations made by the public and the various bodies involved, is now awaited.
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. RGC announced in February 2019 that they had done a deal to take over Caversham Heath Golf Club and would be running both clubs, side by side, until the spring of 2021 when the relocation will be completed.
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.
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 that have been threatening the area. These include the Gladman Devevelopment’s proposal for 245 houses near the Water Tower. Thankfully this proposal was turned down by South Oxfordshire District Council, by a Government Inspector and at Appeal in the Courts.