VICTORY FOR PLOUGH LANE CAMPAIGNERS by Alana Razzell
November 24, 2005
HUNDREDS of homeowners breathed a sigh of relief after winning a six month battle to stop their back gardens being turned into a 220-home estate.
Anxious residents turned up at Wokingham District Council’s offices in Shute End to hear whether a patch of land off Plough Lane would be transformed into a new estate.
Gasps of relief echoed through the council chamber when councillors unanimously turned down the Beazer Homes plan, saying it would create “terrible” traffic chaos and pedestrians would have to “take their lives in their own hands” to cross nearby roads.
At the special meeting of the development control panel concerns were raised by the Save Plough Lane action group, Norreys ward district councillors and Wokingham Town Council over traffic congestion, noise, and and the density of the development.
Peter Harris from the action group, which has lodged hundreds of letters of objection and collected an 800-strong petition, said: “The plan is fundamentally flawed in a number of areas including traffic, safety and sustainability.
“The traffic survey is not detailed enough because it is based on 150 homes. Traffic already stretches back as far as the eye can see in Plough Lane in the rush hour.”
He added “accident black spots” along Binfield Road would become much worse for motorists and said by Beazer Homes that residents could walk to the train station in 20 minutes were “ludicrous”.
Wokingham Town Council planning spokesman Cllr Chris Facey said the area was at risk of becoming overrun with new houses because hundreds of new homes were also planned for Dowles Green Farm.
He said roads would not be able to cope, especially as across the border in Binfield hundreds of new homes were being planned at Amen Corner and Peacock Farm.
He said: “The cumulative effect of Amen Corner, which is an application for 60 houses, Peacock Farm, which is about 550 houses, plus an extra 400 houses at Dowles Green means there will be over-development.
“It is really going to produce unsafe traffic congestion on the Coppid Beech roundabout – which includes the London Road approach.”
Fellow ward councillor Marian Robertson said the plan was “insensitive” to the area, would lessen the gap between Bracknell and Wokingham, cause drainage problems for new and existing residents and would encourage car ownership.
The plan, which has generated 494 letters of objection, an 862 signature petition, and an objection by Wokingham MP John Redwood, was turned down for having an unacceptable impact on traffic, a lack of amenities, too few affordable homes, and risking the habitat of ground nesting birds.
After the meeting residents told The Times they were elated by the decision because, if it had been given permission, they feared it would cause massive upheaval in their lives.
Deborah Tobin-Desson, from Buttercup Close, said: “I am absolutely delighted with this. Everyone has worked so hard during this campaign.
“I have four sons and they will all benefit from this decision. Even the children from Keep Hatch School came down because they want to be able to walk to school safely.”
Hugh Douglas-Smith, also from Buttercup Close, said he was “absolutely delighted” with the decision as the plan was “totally out of character” with the area.
However action group member Jeremy Farrow said while the result was pleasing he feared it was “only the beginning” of the fight and was sure the developer would submit an appeal or new plan.
He said: “It is only the beginning for us. A lot of work has gone into this and it is a good result because it is not in keeping with the area.
“The traffic down there is a nightmare at the moment let alone with another 200 houses.”
Cllr Iain Brown, Norreys ward councillor, sounded a note of caution, saying the developer still had options to put forward new plans.
He said he doubted whether it was the last the council and residents would hear about the
Andy Stallon, representing Beazer Homes, declined to comment, but said during the meeting fears about congestion were “unsubstantiated” and housing numbers were well within local guidelines.