Justine Greening MP, Shadow Minster for Communities and Local Government, visited Reading on Friday 26 June and, together with Reading West Parliamentary Candidate Alok Sharma, met with local residents and campaigners fighting to stop development on the Bath Road reservoir site.
Following detailed conversations with campaign group members and a walkabout along the perimeter of the reservoir site Justine said: “I was very pleased to have a detailed discussion about this potential development with Alok Sharma, local residents and the Bath Road reservoir campaign group who have clearly all been working very hard on behalf of all local people to oppose any development on this site. I think it is really important that going forward local people are allowed to have a real say on where they want to see new homes built and it is vital to ensure that any new development really is sustainable.”
Justine continued: “We want to see a planning system which reflects the views of local communities and not one which overrides them from Whitehall. That is why a future Conservative Government will abolish the top-down housing targets that are driving housing development whatever the cost to communities and their local environment.”
Justine concluded: “Meeting the Bath Road reservoir campaign shows why these top down targets have been so unsuccessful and I will be taking up the issues regarding potential developments, which have been raised today by residents, with the Conservative team formulating planning policy.”
Alok Sharma said: “It was very good to have Justine Greening visit the reservoir site and she heard loud and clear that what local people want is to have a real say about what happens in their communities. There is a growing frustration that we have lost control over our own areas to targets imposed by unelected quangos and addressing this frustration is one of the real challenges facing any future government.”
Alok added: “I will be meeting the Chief Executive of Thames Water on 30 June, together with some members of the Bath Road reservoir group, when we will discuss the views of local residents about this site with the senior team at Thames Water.”
Graham Griffiths, a member of the Save the Bath Road Reservoir Campaign Group, commented: “We are grateful for Justine Greening’s visit and for her listening to our views. We will continue to campaign with the support of all our local political representatives against development on this unique site, which is home to precious wildlife and a rare green lung in the centre of Reading. Alok Sharma, along with representatives of other parties, has been working closely with our campaign group over the past 18 months and we are very pleased that he has managed to get a meeting set up with the Thames Water CEO so we will have the opportunity to put our case at the highest level within Thames Water.”
Photo: Justine Greening MP and Alok Sharma with local residents at the Bath Road Reservoir site.