During a council debate about proposed new data centres on the former Didcot Power Station site, it was said it would make the route ‘like going into Slough’.

Cllr Richard Webber from Vale of White Horse District Council, was quoting comments he had heard as he recorded his surprise that a local society had not objected to the scheme.

There were more supportive voices, however. Cllr Ben Mabbutt pointed out it was a high tech development that would not overly burden the road network.

The wide-ranging views illustrate how difficult it is to satisfy everyone. Had someone proposed a set of cooling towers, it would doubtless have attracted cynicism, yet at the time those were demolished, people were lamenting the loss of what had become a landmark.

Another example of how interests and opinions conflict was evident in one area of Reading, known to Thames Tap. In recent years three schemes, each involving hundreds of possible new homes, were either submitted or feared. Opponents of all three would meet in a local café to debate their next move.

However, the café owner couldn’t wait for all the new homes to be built within walking distance of his business. Those residents would doubtless regret any loss of their cafes or shops but their focus was entirely on preventing development which could support them.

So when the Government’s planning reforms start to really take shape, it’s going to be hard to be able to distinguish between justifiable fears and the voices of those who oppose any kind of development.

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