Friday, 26 February 2010

Unified Opposition Defeats Developers: Campaign Round-Up

#rdgnews - The plan to build 750 new homes on Pincents Hill has been rejected at a meeting of West Berkshire council's planning committee at Little Heath School.

The Pincent's Hill site from the air

The issue became a highly controversial feature of the Reading West parliamentary campaign as candidates on all sides spoke up against the proposed development while developer Blue Living failed to turn up in person, instead sending legal representation who accused politicians of 'trying to win cheap votes'.

Linda Fort notes Labour and Conservative candidates welcomed the rejection.

Conservative Alok Sharma commented on the 1,400 people who signed a petition against the plan, stating that "local people are overwhelmingly opposed to any development on this site."

LibDem candidate Cllr Daisy Benson, who chairs Reading's housing scrutiny committee, paid tribute to the work of community activists organised by her party colleagues Cllr Ricky Duveen and Jean Gardener, as well as Joan Lawrie and the Save Calcot campaign, explaining that the reasons for the rejection are all "closely linked to the detrimental effect the development could have on the environment and the quality of life of residents. "

Meanwhile Labour's Naz Sarkar highlighted two 'major' points of opposition, namely that the site is located outside current settlement boundaries and that the greenfield site is a vital open space between Tilehurst and Theale. He also pays his tribute
"to the dedication of Joan Lawrie and the Save Calcot Action Group who have raised and publicised this issue providing detailed evidence of why this planning proposal should be rejected."
The Pincents Hill site from the ground

However Cllr Ricky Duveen picks out the continuing bone of contention between local and national government, asking,
"I wonder what a new Tory or Labour government would do to give local people more power to decide on planning issues for themselves rather than have their decisions made by an Inspector or the minister?"
This is significant, as Pamela Owen reports, because the Local Development Framework set out at national level continues to include a desired figure of 10,500 new homes in its' core strategy to be built in the area over the course of the next decade.

And Green Party candidate Adrian Windisch made it a full house by collecting a selection of sources on the subject, describing the 'rapurous applause' which greeted the decision.


Oranjepan asks:
After they criticised local politicians for hindering economic development by being disunited during this year's budget debate, will the good people in the local media now give credit to the political classes for being united on this issue or continue to stand full square on the bottom line?

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More on the campaign to save Pincent's Hill and White Hart Meadows.
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