Sunday, 17 May 2015

Publication of The Heights Consultation results

The question on most people's lips in Caversham Heights over the last few weeks has been 'when will The Heights Consultation results be published?'

I am not privy to the results (though I assume the Labour administration is), as the RBC officer in charge has replied this evening to my question:
"We will be sending all of the information to Luke Kennedy of the Education Funding Agency in a large parcel early this week.  It is their decision about what is released and when, however I hope that residents will not have to wait too much longer for a view of the survey response,  while a decision by the EFA may take a while."
I will write again as soon as I have further information.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Update: Bungled Delivery of RBC’s Consultation Letter

As I reported on 25 March, many residents did not receive Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) letter in which RBC announced the public meeting held that night and set out details of the consultation process to identify a permanent site for The Heights primary school.

On 1 April I was sent the following response from Kevin McDaniel, RBC:

“As you know the Council hired a local distribution company to carry out the letter drop in the Borough. We have asked the company to review the roads they distributed to as a matter of urgency.  The company in question provides GPS tracking information on deliveries and the Council asked them to review this data, particularly those roads where we have been contacted by residents.  Their investigation showed that one distributor did not deliver as comprehensively as he should have. We understand his contract has already been terminated because of this. The company have apologised and have revisited missed roads over the past week.

“Apart from the letter drop, the consultation has been widely publicised, and all consultation details are listed on the website at More than 500 people attended the public meeting last week, and the Public Survey part of the consultation process formally started on Monday May 30, for which we have already received a large number of responses. This survey runs until May 1 so all residents will have the opportunity to have their say.”

However yesterday (Thursday) I was notified by a resident that people in Nuney Green, in Mapledurham Parish, still had not received RBC’s consultation letter.  An RBC press officer told me that although a local distribution company had been contracted to deliver RBC’s letter across Reading, the Parish of Mapledurham was too rural for the contractor so RBC staff had taken on the job.

As the public meeting happened over a week ago I asked RBC’s press officer to produce a poster with details of the consultation and asked for it to be displayed in Mapledurham Village’s notice board, sent to Mapledurham Estate and to the Clerk of Mapledurham & Kidmore End Parish Councils.  In addition I asked for copies of the poster to be put through the doors of homes on Nuney Green.

Southern Gas Works Scheduled in Caversham Heights

I have received notification of the following from Reading Borough Council (RBC):

Southern Gas Networks need to replace the final part of their gas mains on Upper Woodcote Road, which is scheduled to begin from Tuesday 7 April 2015, near to its junction with Woodcote Way.

Phase 1 of these works will begin using 3-way portable traffic signals for approximately 2 weeks and will aim to be completed within the Easter school holidays. After this phase of the works is completed the works will be moving away from Woodcote Way and only 2-way portable traffic signals will be necessary to complete the remaining works. This phase of the works will take approximately 3-4 weeks to be completed, during which time the portable traffic signals will be manned throughout the peak traffic periods to avoid build-up of traffic.

RBC will be notifying Reading Bus operators of the upcoming works shortly and residents have been notified and will also receive a letter drop from Southern Gas Networks contractors in the coming days.

The works were postponed as the contractors working on behalf of Southern Gas Network had two crews allocated to this scheme, both of which left the company at very short notice and there wasn't adequate resource to replace them. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Proposal Drawings for Arthur Clark Site

For those unable to go to yesterday's public viewing of A2 Dominion's proposal to build 44 apartments for the over 55s I've got permission to publish the indicative drawings here.

Please note that A2 Dominion is consulting the public at the moment and is yet to submit a planning application to Reading Borough Council (RBC).

As regular readers of my website will know, I sit on RBC's Planning Committee and therefore keep an open mind to avoid the risk of predetermining planning applications.

Yesterday I provided a little more information about this particular proposal so please refer to my last post.  Thank you.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

TODAY: Public Viewing of Plans to Redevelop Arthur Clark Carehome Site

This afternoon don’t forget to pop along to St Andrew’s Hall, Albert Road, Caversham Heights, to view plans for a new extra care housing scheme for older people on the former Arthur Clark Residential Home and the Albert Road Day Centre.

Both facilities were closed down by RBC’s Labour administration despite colossal opposition from the community supported by politicians of all the other colours.  I’ve written a few posts on this which you can read here

A2 Dominion, the company selected by RBC to draw up plans for the site, is inviting local residents to view and share their opinions on the proposed plans between 3.30 and 7 pm today.

If you are unable to make it apparently questions or queries will be answered if people call 0800 432 0077 (which I believe is a Freephone number, but do double-check first).


I attended the consultation event.  Please note that although RBC's press release (from which I took my information for the above post) referred to "plans", A2 Dominion in fact displayed indicative drawings.

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Heights: Consultation Survey Is Live!

Today Reading Borough Council (RBC) has opened its online consultation survey for The Heights.  Residents need to choose from five possible sites giving their preference of permanent site for The Heights primary school.

There are a series of questions which will enable people to state the reason for their choice as well as what one thing would make them change their mind.

The sites put forward by the Stakeholder Groups, agreed by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), are:

High Ridge, Upper Warren Avenue
Mapledurham Playing Fields (MPF)
Albert Road Recreation Ground (ARP)
Shipnells Farm (better known as Bugs Bottom [BB])
Dysons Farm (Land at the junction of Shepherd’s Lane and Kidmore Road)

The survey runs from today (30 March) until 5 pm on Friday 1st May.  When complete, RBC will pass on the responses to the EFA.  The EFA will then take into account all geographical data when making a final decision on the permanent location for The Heights.

Hard copies of the survey will be available at the Civic Centre in Bridge Street, local libraries and leisure centres.

The EFA’s Information Pack which, as indicated by its name, provides information about the permanent site options to help aid people making an informed choice. 

Please note that information on Stakeholder Group’s own websites/Facebook pages or literature may not be accurate.  For example Bugs Bottom is actually 32.47 acres (including some houses in the north east corner) – not 40 acres as described by one group.

One last thing: Due to popular demand and for transparency I have asked RBC to publish on its website the Trust/ownership details relating to the three sites it has responsibility for, ie MPF, ARP & BB.  If successful I will update readers accordingly.

Unfortunately RBC has not agreed to publish the Trust/ownership details relating to the three sites in the council's website

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bungled Delivery of RBC's Consultation Letter

Two Updates at bottom of post

Residents angered that they’ve not received Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) letter yet should get it through their door by the end of today. 

The letter, in which RBC announces tonight’s public meeting (which starts at 7 pm at Rivermead Leisure Centre) and sets out details of the consultation process to identify a permanent site for The Heights primary school, should all have been delivered by Monday (23 March).  However several roads were left out.

I raised my concern of non-delivery a week ago with RBC officers after a resident alerted me to the problem.  I chased for an answer on Monday and, having still not had a response, spoke directly with RBC’s Managing Director yesterday.

RBC hired a local company to distribute the letter across the Borough as well as the parishes of Mapledurham and Kidmore End.  After mine and other complaints, RBC asked the delivery company to review its GPS tracking to see which homes had actually received the letter and to identify those homes missed *

Kevin McDaniel (RBC's officer in charge of the consultation) told me that the contracted company should complete delivery of the roads omitted, as well as those roads part-done, by the end of today (Wednesday).

The late delivery has made tempers soar in this highly charged debate over where The Heights’ permanent home should go.  One local resident has written to me “I can think of no other possible reason for this omission than a deliberate attempt to exclude the people who are most likely to try and protect Mapledurham Playing Fields as the trustees should be doing. This matter has been known about for well over a week and to be 'looking into the matter' today seems to me an absolute fob. I am by no means assured about anything coming from RBC. This 'consultation' will be a farce.”

Tonight’s meeting is being recorded so anyone unable to attend should be able to watch it (RBC has indicated that the recording will be published on RBC's website in the next few days).

* Please note that homes with a notice “No unsolicited mail” will not receive RBC’s letter to meet with the registered delivery company’s policy.

Also note that parking charges may be suspended at Rivermead tonight, however please check to ensure this is the case!


Following Wednesday night's public meeting lots of people have told me that their road still hasn't received RBC's letter. I've reported the roads through to RBC and this is the latest response:

To: "Ballsdon, Isobel"
Sent: Thursday, 26 March 2015, 16:56
Subject: Roads still without RBC's consultation letter
From: "McDaniel, Kevin"

Hello Isobel,

Thank you for sending these through.  We have asked the supplier to review every single GPS trace to ensure that every street has been covered and to make good any omissions which are not covered by “no circular” instructions or physical impediments (eg locked gates).  They will advise us once that process is complete and I will let you know too.

I trust this will give everyone a letter and that all will take part in the survey.



Further Update

Today (31 March) I an RBC officer said that a further conversation was going to take place tomorrow (Wednesday) morning with the distribution company to find out whether the delivery is yet complete.