Save Our Loddon Valley at Hall Farm
SOLVE Hall Farm are a group of residents living around the Hall Farm/ Loddon Valley area opposed to the imposition of 4,500 houses as part of the Revised Local Plan Update proposed by Wokingham Borough Council.
Taking as a starting point the Arborfield and Barkham Neighbourhood Plan, some key policies are outlined below. To put another big Strategic Development Location here (on top of the SDL of 3,500 houses at Arborfield Garrison) is in complete opposition to everything the Neighbourhood Plan stands for.
The Plan was passed by Wokingham Borough Council back in February 2020 and was voted for by residents of Arborfield and Barkham by a majority of 94% in favour to 6% against. The plan can be viewed in full here: https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning-policy/planning-policy-information/neighbourhood-planning/
SOLVE Hall Farm believe there are better ways of fulfilling housing need, both nationally and locally.
It should be noted that Wokingham Planning Department are happy to quote the Arborfield and Barkham Neighbourhood Plan when it suits them. At a recent appeal against Wokingham's refusal of planning permission for affordable housing IRS1, IRS2 and IRS3 (outlined below) were used as part of the argument for refusing the planning application.
The University of Reading currently own most of the land and are now pushing hard to sell it for housing development, netting them a handy £500,000,000. However, this would appear to many in the local community to be very much at odds with their "mission statement" which you can view here: https://www.reading.ac.uk/about/strategy
SOLVE Hall Farm would like to work with the University of Reading to find environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to selling the land for housing that could provide an income to the University, as well as opportunities for research and education in sustainable agriculture.
However, having met with them, and having delivered our alternative vision they have shown no sign of changing their plans and many of us who live locally have recently seen increased activity from surveyors in the fields of Hall Farm.
We have now written to the University Council to warn them of the reputational damage that this environmentally destructive plan will do to the University. It remains to be seen if anyone is listening.
In order to protect the separation of settlements, development proposals outside of development limits designated in the Managing Development Delivery Local Plan 2014 will be required to comply with Policy CP11 of the Core Strategy and: a) Preserve the character and appearance of the countryside; and b) Not lead to the physical, visual or perceived coalescence of existing settlements.
Development proposals should conserve and enhance the natural environment and green spaces of the area, specifically: a) Ensure that there no loss of biodiversity and normally provide a net gain. Where there is likely to be a loss of biodiversity, development will only be acceptable if mitigation measures can be put in place to ensure there is no net loss of biodiversity, through the creation of likefor-like habitats. b) Take any opportunities to protect, enhance and extend wildlife corridors between existing open spaces and habitats as a means of mitigating the impacts of development on biodiversity. c) Conserve the environment for nocturnal species, through the avoidance of lighting and mitigating the impact of external lighting likely to increase night time human presence. d) Contain measures that will help to mitigate the impacts of, and adapt to, climate change
1. Development proposals must consider, assess and address their impact on junctions and the roads and other PROWs that connect them, including road safety, and implement measures of mitigation as required. In establishing the capacity of individual roads, consideration must also be given to the general frontage land-use and its sensitivity to traffic.
1. Development proposals must recognise, respect and preserve the identity and rural setting of settlements, with regard to: a) Scale and form of the development b) Density of the development c) Materials used in the development to reflect local character d) Tree and hedgerow planting that reinforces and reflects local biodiversity in the parishes and e) The distinctive character of the varied landscapes of the area and outstanding views.
1. Development proposals will need to demonstrate how they protect or enhance the historic and natural character of the area, specifically: a) Arborfield Cross Conservation Area b) Chamberlain’s Farm Area of Special Character c) The Barkham Street Area of Special Character d) The local historic environment, including the setting of Listed buildings, Scheduled Monuments and other historically significant buildings
1. Where they meet other policy requirements in this Neighbourhood Plan and the local plan, the principle of new housing within the current Development Limits is supported, (including the Arborfield Garrison Strategic Development Location). However the use of brownfield sites will be preferred.
Proposals for new development which involve existing community facilities, will be supported only if the proposal does not result in the loss of, or have an adverse effect on, the asset or facility concerned, unless a) Satisfactory alternative facilities are provided or b) It can be evidenced that such assets are no longer required; or c) They will provide sufficient community benefit to outweigh the loss of the existing facility.