Thames Water’s application to redevelop the Bath Road Reservoir site was unanimously rejected by the RBC planning committee at their meeting on Weds 7th October. All members of all political parties put their differences aside to support the local and wider community in their opposition to this insensitive, unsympathetic and unsuitable proposal.
Local resident Graham Griffiths said: “We are obviously delighted by the unanimous decision by the Planning Committee to reject Thames Water’s application that has taken them two years to complete. We were completely knocked out by the overwhelming support of the local community who turned up to overfill the council chambers. We are hugely grateful to our elected representatives, particularly Martin Salter, Alok Sharma, Paul Gittings, Terry Byrne, the public, Lord Stoddart, and to everyone else who spoke in our favour this evening. We realise that this is by no means the end, but we would encourage Thames Water to reflect on and be mindful of all the issues that were discussed, and we would invite them to reconsider and come forward with a new vision for the future use of this site.”
Mel Woodward, a campaigner and local resident added: “We feel pleased that common sense has prevailed and that justice has been done with regards to the hugely unpopular development plans proposed by Thames Water. We are not opposed to development, but what Thames Water was proposing would have been a massive overdevelopment of the site, completely out of keeping with the surrounding area, and was driven by corporate greed. We would welcome a reopening of our previous discussions with Thames Water, as long as they will listen to us this time. We do not feel that the previous public consultations they have done have been genuine exercises in listening to the real views of the community.”
Mel Woodward concluded: "It is likely that Thames Water will appeal against this decision. The public, its representatives and the planning committee are aware of this and believe that there are an overwhelming number of legitimate planning reasons why the application should not be permitted. We would invite Thames Water to approach the community and its representatives, to discuss where we go from here. Hopefully we can all work together to consider a vision that would be acceptable to us all, would be a good use of the site, be beneficial to the community, and beneficial to Reading as a whole."
Alok Sharma, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, said: "The Bath Road Reservoir Group have lead a highly professional and sustained campaign against this development and both they and the whole of the local community richly deserve this magnificient result. All the public speakers, as well as the planning committee members, set out a range of valid planning reasons to oppose this unwelcomed development and it was good to see all political parties working together to support the local community."
Alok concluded: "This is not the end of the fight and Thames Water will undoubtedly try again. I just hope that next time Thames Water will be prepared to really listen to the voice of the local community and not ride roughshod over local opinion."