The former Reading Golf Club redevelopment of 223 homes has had to have gas boilers fitted in most units due to insufficient grid capacity for air source heat pumps.
Reading Borough Council announced in September there is too little grid capacity for its policy of air source heat pumps and EV chargers in new homes. The council reported that Scottish and Southern Energy Network (SSEN) told developers there is a cap on the amount of power available for some schemes.
The council said developers of one high-profile consented scheme had had to go back to the planning committee to apply to install gas boilers instead of heat pumps and councillors at last Monday’s (September 25) policy committee meeting revealed that that scheme is the development of part of Reading Golf Club’s former course in Emmer Green.
The scheme, now known as Emmer Green Drive, currently being developed by Fairfax, was voted through by the planning applications committee last year, despite fierce opposition. The club has since merged with Caversham Heath Golf Club and moved to Mapledurham.
Green Party councillor Cllr Rob White told Monday’s meeting: “The only development I can think of so far is the Caversham golf club where all the Labour councillors voted to go ahead with the scheme, despite 150 houses not being connected to air source heat pumps and their having to have gas boilers installed.
“Only Labour councillors were paralysed into inaction. Greens voted against it.”
Councillors acknowledged the golf club scheme is the high-profile development at the centre of the power supply debate but the meeting heard SSEN and the council are now working together on the network capacity issues.
However Cllr White said that should have been done earlier.
He went on: “Why wasn’t this working together with SSEN done before such large developments were given the go ahead? Why are the developers themselves not part of the solution?
“If we can’t build sustainable houses due to network issues, can’t we take contributions from them to enhance the network?”
Labour council leader Cllr Jason Brock called his remarks simplistic and a misunderstanding of how the Local Plan works.
Conservative councillor for Emmer Green Cllr Clarence Mitchell said he hoped the scheme can be as successful as it can be, now that the decision on gas boilers has been taken.
A public meeting regarding Emmer Green Drive will be held at St Barnabas Hall on October 12 at 8pm.
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