Newsletter – Spring 2020

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – WEDNESDAY 25TH MARCH 2020, Earley St Peters Church Hall, 7.45pm.

Your Meeting …..Your Concerns…..with Senior Officer from WBC speaking on the Local Plan

All Residents of Whitegates Welcome – Further Details Overleaf

  • ACER Gets Green Space for Earley and Woodley: ACER, working with Earley and Woodley Town Councils, has convinced the Borough Council to identify the Bulmershe Open Space ‘Green Lung’ between the two neighbourhoods as a Local Green Space in the emerging Local Plan to 2036. If confirmed this will give the highest level of planning protection from harmful development to this valued open land. The area proposed extends from Reading Road Allotments in the north to High Wood and beyond in the south. As the Plan progresses to its next stage ACER remains ‘on the case’ to ensure that the management policy for the new Green Space will be robust and watertight.
  • Road Resurfacing: All road users and cyclists in particular are aware of the increasing deterioration  of our local roads.  ACER and the residents of Hilltop Road have successfully campaigned for  recent resurfacing of the worst half of Hilltop Road.  It is hoped that the remaining half of Hilltop will also be resurfaced in 2020
  • Planning for the Future:  ACER has been keeping a close eye on all of Wokingham Borough Council’s LOCAL PLAN which focuses on development in our borough up to 2036.  Although the main focus is on new build homes, the Local Plan will affect all of the borough including Whitegates..  ACER is responding in detail to the Local Plan before the deadline of 20th March. The full 247 page text of the Local Plan can be found buried in the WBC Website ‘www.wokingham.gov.uk/consultation’. Click on ‘Draft Local Plan consultation’, then ‘Draft Local Plan Consultation Documents’  Select ‘Draft Plan 2020.pdf’ from the list  There is also an on-line  ‘Local Plan Survey’ where you can input your own views on the Local Plan.
  • New Houses:  The Local Plan proposes that the total number of new houses is concentrated in one dedicated large scale development rather than cramming more houses in existing urban areas.  Both decisions are in accordance with feedback from residents, including ACER, but probably not in accordance with developers who have procured land and property in anticipation of future planning approval.    The area selected for development of a new ‘Garden Town’ is in Grazeley, with a high percentage of affordable energy efficient houses.  6,500 houses are proposed initially with room for expansion. ACER is pleased to see solar power panels, heat pumps and using rainwater and waste ‘grey’ water from washing for flushing toilets. This would save on water consumption and bills.  The use of water filter plants to eliminate limescale and farm chemicals, which have found their way into our water systems, could also save on cleaning products and heating bills, but is not mentioned.
  • Transport Links:  One proposal of interest in the Local Plan is the revival of the third Thames bridge, which would continue the A3290 over the Thames into Oxfordshire. This would relieve the congestion at Sonning Bridge but would bring more traffic down the A4 through Whitegates to join the A3290 at the busy junction frequently backed up with traffic trying to get into Reading via the Cemetery Junction bottleneck. ACER is concerned that the third bridge would potentially increase the incentive for rat running routes through Whitegates when congestion increases.
  • Parked Cars: The increase in on- street parking associated with Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) has been recognised in the Local Plan, which proposes requirements for more off-street parking for larger HMO’s. ACER has seen the negative effect of increased vehicle ownership with HMO’s in Whitegates both for neighbours and our long suffering grass verges and is campaigning for more off-road parking for all HMO properties.  Currently only two off road parking spaces are required which is completely unrealistic.
  • The recent increase in parked cars in roads nearest Reading is suspected to be due to the recent tightening of parking restrictions in Reading.  The number of parked cars reduced over the Christmas holidays, which coincided with university students being on holiday. ACER is closely liaising with Borough Councillor Shirley Boyt who has been promised a visit by WBC Highways.
  • Climate Emergency:  Following the Declaration of a Climate Emergency by Wokingham Borough Council, WBC have set up a group to determine a Green Strategy.  Proposals under evaluation include planting thousands of trees.  One tree for every resident has been discussed, as well as WBC setting up their own Solar Energy farm.   ACER will assess and comment on any draft proposals and is keen to ensure front gardens and existing trees in Whitegates are retained and reintroduced as part of any green strategy as well as being incorporated into the Local Plan
  • Improving public safety: ACER works closely with the Woodley and North Earley Community Forum (WANE)to identify local priorities including intimidating beggars in Woodley Precinct and burglaries. Open meetings are held from 7-9pm at the Oakwood Centre.   The next meeting is at their AGM on April 22nd.
  • Street Maintenance: Members have reported improvements in grass cutting and street cleaning following the appointment of new contractors by WBC. Some streets, however, are not being swept of leaves and the drains cleared out due to parked cars. Residents reported they had moved their cars in accordance with the schedule, only to find the streets were cleaned the next day when the cars had returned. Pressure is being exerted on WBC for the streets to be cleaned in accordance with the day stated on the WBC schedule. 
  • Litter Picking:  ACER is supporting EASI in the Huge Earley Litter Pick (HELP) on Sunday 29th March. Volunteers will be provided with litter pickers, bags and High Vis tabards. Meet by Kwik-Fit at 10am.
  • Liaison with MERA and Reading University:  ACER sends representatives to our neighbouring Residents Association   in Maiden Erleigh and is also represented at Reading University’s  community meetings to work together on common issues and compare notes and ideas for our mutual benefit

Security Reminder

Burglars are getting smarter.  During a recent spate of burglaries in our area, it became clear that they had got to know the movements of the residents and had timed the break-in to perfection.  Remember that burglars are often in and out within 10 minutes.

Sign up atwww.thamesvalleyalert.co.uk for the latest local information and advice from Thames Valley Police.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – WEDNESDAY 25TH MARCH 2020, Earley St Peters Church Hall, 7.45pm

Your Meeting …..Your Concerns

ACER is delighted to have Ian Bellinger, Category Manager for Growth and Delivery (Strategy and Commissioning: Place) from Wokingham Borough Council as our guest speaker.  Ian will give short presentation on the proposed new Local Plan, focussing on Whitegates.  Ian has been the leading Council Officer on the Local Plan for over a year, and will be pleased to answer your questions.

  • Your committee is keen to have some new committee members on board, so if you are at all interested please contact us, or let us know on the evening if you prefer.

ACER wants to have more members in every street so that it can fully reflect your views.

ACER CONTACTSemail: chair@acerwhitegates.org.uk      Committee:Tim Marsh (Vice Chair,  Acting Chair)       Siôn Williams ( Treasurer), Eric Ayers, Mary Bather, Jenny Lissaman, Graham May, Chris Wigmore,

Local Wokingham Borough Councillors:   Andy Croy  andy.croy@wokingham.gov.uk  07793 767314;    Carl Doran carl.doran@wokingham.gov.uk  07811 157287,  Shirley Boyt    shirley.boyt@wokingham.gov.uk  

Local Earley Town CouncillorsSheena Matthews  sheena.matthews@earley-tc.gov.uk   07766 424098 ,     Gurdeep Bhangra  gurdeep.bhangra@earley-tc.gov.uk    Marion Shaw marion.shaw@earley-tc.gov.uk.