A PETITION has been launched to fight plans for a new supermarket and housing estate in Lower Earley.
The Save Swallows Meadow campaign aims to stop a proposed development in its tracks.
As we revealed last week, Lower Earley Properties announced that it hopes to build a Lidl foodstore and 40 new homes on the site off Meldreth Way.
The developer cleared the woodland area last November, and has launched a digital consultation to get residents’ feedback on the latest proposal.
Cllr Clive Jones, leader of Earley Town Council, said he will oppose the development.
“That it is land that has been designated as countryside by Wokingham Borough Council,” said Cllr Jones. “It’s never been considered to be development land.
“We don’t want anything done there. In fact, we would actually like it to be restored to what it was six months ago.”
The councillor says he is concerned about the impact development could have on wildlife, and is still trying to get Swallows Meadow designated as a Local Green Space. He said this would offer it some protection against future planning proposals.
“Earley Town Council started that process in July,” Cllr Jones explained. “When the local plan is updated, which should hopefully be ready in the next few months, it will include that area for protection.”
Norman Jorgensen, prospective Conservative candidate for Maiden Erlegh in May’s local elections, said he will also oppose the proposal.
“I think it’s an inappropriate site for the proposed development,” Mr Jorgensen said.
“That stretch of land has been part of the green lung between Lower Earley and the M4 so it helps protect the area in terms of noise, and also provides a bit of wild green space for people and animals to enjoy.”
He said the specific area of Lower Earley has already been fully developed, and it should now be left as it is.
“A supermarket would also encourage more traffic past people’s homes, and would completely change the character of what is a very quiet residential area,” Mr Jorgensen added.
However, a spokesperson for Lower Earley Properties says it has commissioned surveys to consider a whole host of issues, including ecology, highways, flooding and noise.
“These results will be submitted as part of a planning application and reviewed by the council against local and national planning policies,” they said.
Following the announcement, Wokingham Liberal Democrats launched a petition to protect the site and residents are being encouraged to sign it.
The group hopes to present it to Lower Earley Properties at the upcoming consultation.
“We want them to understand the strength of feeling among residents,” Cllr Jones explained.
“We also want to present it to the borough council’s Planning Committee, so they understand the depth of feeling against the development too.
“We’re not going to give up. Just because they are a big company, we’re not going to roll over and let them develop our green space here in Earley.”
Mr Jorgensen said he also plans to oppose the development at the upcoming public consultation, and is encouraging residents to do the same.
“If people want to head to the council with their objections on planning grounds, that would be welcomed,” he said.
A spokesperson for Lower Earley Properties described the plan as a “multi-million-pound investment to boost the local economy”, providing jobs and homes in the area.
They said: “We will be sharing more information at our Virtual Village Hall consultation event next week.
“We are at an early stage of the planning process and look forward to engaging with the local community and stake-holders in the coming weeks.”
To find out more about the proposed development and to register for the Virtual Village Hall on Thursday, January 28, visit: lowerearleyplans.co.uk
To view the petition, visit: www.wokinghamlibdems.org.uk/meadow