Finchampstead residents’ fears over home plan raised with petition

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FINCHAMPSTEAD could be swallowed up by Wokingham if a proposed development of 80 new houses goes ahead, residents have warned.

More than 2,200 residents living in and around the village have signed a petition calling on the council to halt the planning application submitted by Gladman Developers Ltd.

Two petitions, one from residents and one from Sand Martins Golf Club which sits adjacent to the proposed development site, were handed to Wokingham Borough Council’s Director of Finance and Resources, Graham Ebers, on Thursday last week.

Neil Willby, chairman of the Stop the Finchampstead North Development #KeepItGreen campaign, said one in four residents of the village had signed the petition.

He said: “It’s an incredible number, and we’d like to thank everyone who has thrown their support behind it, including the members of the committee who have knocked on doors and leafleted. We’ve been told it is one of the biggest petitions WBC has ever received.”

More than 600 people have also formally objected to the planning application online, with a further 472 objecting to the associated application for a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG).

Mr Willby said: “The proposals for the SANG are ridiculous.

“They must include a footpath of a certain distance, but to achieve that distance they’ve had to go over the Finchampstead Road twice, at a place where there aren’t any traffic controls.”

Resident and petitioner Louise Gell said: “We are very concerned that we will lose the only green space left between Finchampstead and Wokingham. It is a beautiful area, full of wildlife, which would be destroyed if this application gets approval.

Pauline Willby added: “The infrastructure isn’t there, the roads can’t cope, the GP surgery is full, the local schools are full, we just cannot cope with any more houses.”

Pauline Ronson, who organised the Sand Martins petition, said: “The traffic in the area around the golf club is already at breaking point, it gets very congested in the mornings as it is.

“Eighty new homes will just add more and more congestion to a road which is already far too busy.”

Finchampstead Parish Council has also objected to the plans, calling the development ‘inappropriate’.

Chairman Cllr Gordon Veitch said in a letter: “We feel that losing this green space will be a major loss and will remove an important characteristic and key feature of the parish.

“This is inappropriate development in the Countryside and will destroy an important green field gap between the parish of Finchampstead and Wokingham town.”

The deadline for comments on the application has now passed. To view the plans visit http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning/ and search for application numbers 170970 (for the houses) and 170971 (for the SANG).