Government and Wokingham Borough pay lip service to Localism

Cllr Hayward and Cllr Downes

Borough Cllr Lesley Hayward (Bulmershe & Whitegates) and Woodley Town Cllr Amanda Downes (Bulmershe)

Woodley and Whitegates Liberal Democrats are disappointed to find out that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has declined to stop the controversial move by Wokingham Borough to grant planning permission to Reading University to build houses on playing fields in Bulmershe and within the area designated as a Site of Urban Landscape Value (SULV).

The letter confirming this decision says “The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decision on planning issues, and believes that planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible”

However Beth Rowland, Lib Dem leader of Woodley Town Council and Wokingham Borough Councillor for South Lake said ” They don’t really believe in Localism – Eric Pickles and Wokingham Borough council have now ridden rough shod over the wishes of our local communities”

Beth Rowland further comments that “Both Earley Town Council and Woodley Town Council objected strongly to the extension of the universities plans onto this land that was designated a SULV by Wokingham Borough Council to protect it from development. If planning decisions were truly taken at a local level then this application would have been refused. Earley Town Council and Woodley Town Council have recently agreed to form a Joint Group to try to fight to protect what is left of the SULV”

Kay Gilder, Lib Dem Wokingham Borough Councillor for South Lake said “I blame the Development Control department at Wokingham Borough Council, no sooner had they had written a new policy to protect this area than they buckled under pressure from Reading University and recommended approval of a scheme that drives a horse and cart through that new policy – before the ink was even dry – I believe that Reading University are bullying the local councils by flexing their considerable commercial muscle in the area”

Published by Woodley & Whitegates Liberal Democrats, 26 Farriers Close Woodley, Reading RG5 3DD.

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