11 February 2021
Reading Golf Club's new Planning Application to build 257 houses on the Emmer Green golf course, runs to over 100 documents. Some are very long. A good place to start is their Planning Statement, and in particular Section 6 (on page 23), which covers key development proposals. You may also like to look at their recent Transport Briefing, that includes proposed changes to local road junctions.
10 February 2021
CADRA maintains a summary of the significant local planning applications and appeals which is updated each month. Each application listed provides a direct link the RBC website where plans can be seen and comments sent on line. Links to the Planning Inspectorate show progress on appeals. Applications in South Oxfordshire which are significant and close to the border with Reading are also listed.
11 January 2021
Reading is one of a few large Thameside towns in having a ribbon of green space, almost entirely free of development, open to the public and with little that is privately owned.
Although written in 2004, we think Reading Borough Council's Thames Parks Vision Statement is still relevant today. It is a strategy for maintaining and improving this precious public resource, so that it may continue to be enjoyed by as many and as wide a range of people as possible.
3 November 2020
The Government has launched a public consultation on proposals to make major changes to the UK planning system. Their objective is to simplify and speed-up the way planning permission is granted. A key proposal would see all land categorised for development as: Growth, Renewal or Protected. On adoption of a local authority's Local Plan, Growth areas will automatically receive outline planning permission.
As well as CADRA's response to the consultation, other organisations have commented.
Civic Voice, a national charity for the civic movement in England, whose aim is to make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive, and promote civic pride, have produced a useful Briefing Paper on the proposals.
Here are two Government papers about the their proposals.
The consultation closes on the 29 October.
9 January 2020
CADRA monitors local planning applications and comments on proposals of significance to Caversham. It follows and contributes to local planning policy as it is developed through the Local Development Framework. We publish monthly a list of the current significant applications and their status. Latest Planning List
CADRA generally confines its comments to planning applications which would affect the character of the area or have a wider community impact.
If you’re concerned about other applications, and wish to comment on them, the Royal Town Planning Institute' s helpful guide How do I comment on planning applications and the Government's Plain English guide to the planning system is intended to give an overview of how the national planning system works.
Planning Permission and enquiries: 0118 937 3787
The Council website provides extensive information on planning applications. Online Register
Tel: 0303 444 5000
The Government Planning Inspectorate decides on planning applications when an applicant appeals against a refusal of planning permission.
Planning department : 01235 422600
The South Oxfordshire District Council website provides extensive information on planning applications.
The Government's National Planning Policy Framework provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced , and CADRA takes a keen and active interest in local plans. A central theme of the Framework is a presumption in favour of Sustainable Development.
September 2020 - The Government has proposed wide-ranging changes to the planning system.
The current Reading Local Plan, was adopted by the Council in November 2019, having been submitted to the Government Inspector for examination. It sets down the policies that will govern how the town is developed up to 2036. Whilst its focus is housing and commercial developments, it also addresses how it relates to other aspects of life in the town, including: transport, cultural development, and preserving local heritage and the natural environment.
CADRA has followed every stage of the process to develop the Reading Local Development Framework and the Reading Local Plan, submitting detailed comments and liaising with other local groups. Among other changes, this has secured the protection of many of the open spaces north of the river, through the Site and Detailed Policies Document.
For background information see our section on Planning Policy History.
Developers, notably Gladman, have and are likely to continue to make applications for housing in South Oxfordshire close to or on the border with Reading. So, the newly submitted South Oxfordshire Local Plan, for the period up to 2034, is perhaps of equal interest to Caversham residents as the Reading plan.
Government Inspectors have made clear they will overturn a local authority's rejection of an application which the Inspector judges to be sustainable, thereby requiring the Council to bear the costs of the appeal. Below is the National Policy Framework's definition of ‘sustainable’, which is very much an area of policy to watch.
a) an economic objective – to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation and improved productivity; and by identifying and coordinating the provision of infrastructure.
b) a social objective – to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by fostering a well-designed and safe built environment, with accessible services and open spaces that reflect current and future needs and support communities’ health, social and cultural well-being.
c) an environmental objective – to contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; including making effective use of land, helping to improve biodiversity, using natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, including moving to a low carbon economy.
The National Planning Policy Framework was published in March 2012 bringing significant changes to the planning process. A central theme was the presumption in favour of Sustainable Development. This meant that the new Local Plans for Reading and South Oxfordshire would have even greater significance. The background to previous local plans follow.
For a number of years Reading Borough Council has consulted the public on the detailed policy framework for managing and protecting the built and natural environment in the borough. CADRA commented at each stage of consultation.
This process reached a conclusion with the formal adoption by the Council of the Sites and Detailed Policies Document (SDPD) and Proposals Map in. These form part of the Reading Borough Local Development Framework (LDF), and replace the remaining ‘saved’ policies of the Reading Borough Local Plan (adopted 1998). They set out detailed policies for development management decisions, and identify sites for development, protection and other designations. The Proposals Map shows the SDPD designations on a map, as well as designations from other adopted plans and contextual information.
This link gives a summary of the adopted Development Plans in place for Reading: RBC Planning Policy
Copies can also be seen at the Civic Offices and at Reading Libraries.
A similar process was completed by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), where five years was spent preparing and consulting on a Core Strategy. South Oxfordshire District Council formally adopted the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy 2027 Development Plan Document in December 2012: SODC The Core Strategy
In preparing the Core Strategy one option, Option F, was to locate 6,000 homes on the outskirts of Oxford and Reading. This was rejected.
Historic England Lists buildings for their special architectural or historical interest. A building may be listed because of age, rarity, architectural merit or the method of construction. Listing aims to ensure that the architectural and historic interest of a building is preserved within present day uses. Buildings are graded to show their relative architectural or historic interest:
Grade I - Buildings of exceptional interest
Grade II* - Particularly important buildings of more than special interest
Grade II - Nationally important and of special interest.
There are 78 listed buildings in Caversham, of which only one is Grade I - a large barn at Chazey Court Farm in The Warren, which is currently considered to be at risk.
There are three listed Grade II* - Chazey Farmhouse, St Peter's Church and Old Grove House in Surley Row.
You can view the: schedule of all listed properties in Caversham
Locally Listed Buildings - Reading Borough Council lists other buildings, not listed by Historic England, which are locally important and are subject to more detailed planning control.
Any work to demolish, alter, extend or in any other way affect the building requires Listed Building Consent from Reading Borough Council. Works which affect the character are likely to include: alterations to structural fabric of a building such as roofs, floors, walls, stairs and fireplaces and modifications of windows, doors and mouldings. The procedure is similar to obtaining planning permission.
An application for Planning Permission is often necessary alongside an application for listed building consent. For clarification of how to apply for Listed Building Consent, and to find out whether planning Permission is required contact Reading Borough Council Planning Department.
Redevelopment of a site containing a listed building requires Listed Building Consent for the demolition and Planning Permission for the new building.
There is a very fine line between the repair and maintenance of a listed building and alterations that would require Listed Building Consent. The loss of original materials and features during the maintenance of a listed building can lead to a loss of architectural and historical value of the building. Any removal of original materials and the replacement with modern alternatives is likely to require Listed Building Consent. Consolidation and repair is more appropriate than the wholesale replacement of materials and features. The Planning Department will give advice.
You can view information on listed buildings on the RBC website: Conservation areas & listed buildings
Using Town & Country Planning legislation, local planning authorities are able to protect trees of amenity value by way of a Tree Preservation Order, commonly referred to as a "TPO". This is particularly important when specimen trees are under threat of inappropriate work, damage or felling. TPOs are highly significant in determining planning applications. Planning Officers can apply provisional TPOs to sites where a planning application is under consideration. The Natural Environment Team in the Planning Department deals with trees.
The owner of a protected tree remains responsible for its maintenance and for any damage they may cause. To undertake work to a protected tree an application must be made in writing to the Natural Environment Team in the Council's Planning Section, who will make a visit and write back with its decision.
Carrying out work on a protected tree without permission is an offence and can lead to a fine.
On Reading Borugh Council’s website you can view a Guide to TPOs, a full list of TPOs listed alphabetically by street, and the Council's Tree Strategy: RBC Trees
From 1 October 2008 the permitted development rights that allowed householders to pave their front garden with hardstanding without planning permission were changed in order to reduce the impact on flooding and pollution of watercourses.
You do not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally. If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area.
More detailed guidance on paving your front garden can be found on the Planning Portal.
In 2014, at a CADRA AGM, Prof. Gavin Parker from the University of Reading presented an Outline of Planning and Neighbourhood Planning: Gavin-Parker Presentation
Hermes submitted two new applications (180671 - 180499), which included a change to the phasing of the development and a cinema or leisure facility above the Super Drug shop. CADRA commented on the 180499 application.
Hermes made a minor application detailing how they would carry-out part of the development for Block 1A, the new block at the western end of the development, currently a private car park for the shops.
It was announced that Waitrose was no longer progressing plans to extend its Caversham store as part of the proposal to redevelop St Martin’s Centre. Following the withdrawal of Waitrose, Hermes applied for permission to carry out the work in phases. The attached plan shows the sequence requested.
The application for the redevelopment of the St. Martins Precinct was eventually approved on 31 March 2015 . The scheme included upgrading the precinct, which will link to a new public square - Caversham Square - and a larger Waitrose, a total of 40 flats, a cinema and improvements to the parking area. CADRA welcomed the regeneration and the new facilities, whilst expressing concerns about the effect on Church Street of some aspects of the design, especially the Pizza Express building, and the cut-back of the Holm Oak outside Costa.
The application was considered at the November 2014 Planning Applications Committee. Planning Officers made a guarded recommendation for approval and CADRA outlined a number of concerns. The view that this was a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to get this right for Caversham was endorsed by Councillors. The applicant requested a deferral to allow differences on financial contributions to be resolved. The committee asked the applicant to address the concerns raised during the deferral period. Some very minor changes had been made and background discussions with the Council continued.
Further modifications were made to the plans. However, the issue of trees on the Church Street frontage remained a major concern, particularly the landmark 150 year old, evergreen Holm Oak. The upward extension planned above Boots and Costa would occupy much of the space of the Holm Oak canopy. To erect scaffolding, construct the new apartments and give some light to their windows, the major part of the canopy would have to be removed. These photographs illustrate the extent of the planned overlap between the existing tree canopy and the proposed building.
Street view Church street
Holm Oak - Block D clash
Holm Oak actual position
Similarly, the canopy of the new block including Pizza Express would occupy the space of the two street trees towards the telephone exchange which are now progressing well as mature trees.
While many of the modifications were welcomed, trees on the Church Street frontage would be critical to soften the impact of the larger modern buildings. The CADRA response to the revised plans can be seen at: CADRA response.
Following a range of concerns raised over the initial plans, revised plans were submitted , as shown here.
The original planning application for St Martin's Centre (No. 140997) was submitted in June 2014.
The Masterplan section gave a quick overview of the scheme, showing 3 different views along Church Street 05,06,07
The Landscape Plan showed the overall layout with details of trees and proposed surfaces.
Major changes were shown in:
Block A - the new 5 storey block adjacent to the telephone exchange
Block D - new residential provision above Boots and Costa, making 4 storeys
Block E - the extended Waitrose store and the decked car park.
CADRA sent a preliminary response to the application, drawing on the many comments received, which followed the CADRA response to the pre-application consultation.
This document sets out CADRA’s vision for the area.
In October 2016, Gladman Developments Ltd, acting on behalf of the land owner, submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), to build 245 houses on farmland next to the Peppard Rd, on the boundary with Reading (Application No. P16/S3630/O). It wasn't until April 2019, that Gladman finally admitted there was no longer a way to pursue this application. This successful outcome for local residents, is a remarkable story of how well local community groups and parish councils can work closely together. How important the hard work of individuals is and that within a community there are often people with very useful specialist knowledge. CADRA is very proud to have beeen part of this campaign. The key events in this story are as follows.
Along with CADRA's Objections to Gladman's application, there were also those from other groups and many individuals.
The Gladman Inquiry opened Tuesday 1 May and heard evidence on landscape and transport from interested parties including CADRA, who strongly objected to the development (Our statement). Paul Matthews did an excellent job as professional transport witness and prepared a very detailed Statement. The remainder of the inquiry was deferred until August 29th. This was because SODC's original Statement did not include the housing land supply for 5.4 years, which was only available shortly before the inquiry. A significant part of Gladman's case was the absence of a 5.4 year land supply, which SODC could now demonstrate.
During the final stage of inquiry (August 2018), Paul Matthews again gave expert transport evidence. CADRA worked with the other members of the campaign group (CAGE) in all the build-up, made two statements and were represented throughout the appeal.
Thanks to the financial support from organisations and individuals, CAGE was able to engage a barrister. His contribution was very important and his closing statement to the appeal and other statements can be read here:
The dismissal (November 2018) of the appeal by the Government inspector was tremendous news and great credit to all the community groups, including CADRA, which fought the case. The inspector focused on issues of housing numbers, the Local Plan and landscape impact in reaching his decision (Inspector's Decision Notice). However, Gladman decided to challenge that decision in the High Court.
In February 2019, Gladman's request to challenge, at a High Court hearing, the process by which the Planning Inspector reached his decision was refused. They were however granted an oral hearing before a judge.
On the 27th March at the oral hearing, Gladman was again unsuccessful in seeking permission for a court hearing. They made no approach to the Court of Appeal within the seven days allowed, and so that was the end of the road for this particular application.
Had the planning application been successful, the development would have been the first on the Reading-South Oxfordshire border and could have set a precedent for similar developments.