Public Inquiry looms for Thames Water appeal against Bath Road Reservoir decision

Despite the RBC Planning Committee’s unanimous rejection of Thames Water’s planning application to a packed Council Chamber on 4th October and despite the clear widespread public and political opposition to their application, Thames Water submitted an appeal to challenge the Council decision in May of this year.

The future of the Reservoir site will be determined at a Public Inquiry, where a government Inspector has been appointed to consider it. The Inquiry will begin at 10am on 16th November at the Town Hall and will last approximately 8 working days. The public and interested parties are welcome to attend, though obviously can dip in and out as their time permits.

The proposed development plans include not just 96 dwellings, but also the conversion and an out-of-character extension of the Grade II listed Water Tower into offices. It involves the removal of all the embankment and the complete flattening of the site and the construction of up to 4 storey high buildings which will dwarf and overshadow the surrounding properties. The character of the area will be permanently changed.

Mel Woodward, from the STBRR Group said: “Thames Water’s evidence is based on their claim that the site as it currently stands is ‘unpleasant’ and would be significantly improved if it were demolished and replaced with a load of concrete. This is obviously ludicrous given how valued the site is by the local community.”

Fellow campaigner Graham Griffiths added: “They are also claiming that the site, despite being the only open green space in the area and sustaining a host of wildlife has only limited value in this respect and which they claim would be improved by building over the vast majority of it. We hope that the Inspector will recognize how unrealistic their claims that schools would want to visit a housing estate to appreciate the wildlife appear to be.”

Peter Finnan, local Neighbourhood Watch coordinator, said: “The Inquiry is open to public attendance and public speaking. The more people who attend in support of the campaign, the more weight this will add to the STBRR arguments. If anyone would like to speak as an independent member of the public, please get in touch to discuss details.”

Local Reading West MP Alok Sharma, who has been working with local residents and the Save Bath Road Reservoir Campaign Group since 2008 to oppose Thames Water’s plans to build almost 100 homes on the reservoir site, said: “Thames Water’s plans are unacceptable to local people and ultimately they have failed to take on board local concerns or to engage in a mutually satisfactory dialogue. I very much hope the Council’s decision to reject Thames Water’s planning application is upheld and I will be taking a robust line against Thames Water’s plans at the appeal hearing.”

For more information and contact details, please visit www.savethebathroadreservoir.co.uk or alternatively contact one of the following people:

Mel Woodward 07866 500854
Graham Griffiths 07808 143649
Peter Finnan 07500 277456
Alok Sharma 07785 231862