A ‘ridiculous idea’ to attach an 81-home estate onto the edge of a semi-rural village has been recommended for approval.

That’s despite the fact it breaks the council’s own policies against allowing large-scale developments in the countryside.

A proposal by Croudace Homes to build the estate on the edge of Swallowfield village were set to be decided on by Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee on Thursday, December 10.

Planning officers said the proposals would harm the countryside, and be far larger than is suitable for Swallowfield. But they said they had to recommend it be approved anyway because the council doesn’t yet have a plan to deliver space for new housing over the next five years.

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Swallowfield residents fear the new estate will ‘urbanise’ their semi-rural village and overwhelm local services such as doctors surgeries and schools. The council received 354 letters of objection to the plans.

Phillipa Munro of Lambs Lane said the proposal was a ‘ridiculous idea’. She said: “Swallowfield is a small village - it does not have the infrastructure to cope with yet more houses.

“The lanes will be unable to withstand the amount of extra traffic - the doctors’ surgery is already over subscribed, there is no school and the list goes on. This is a ridiculous idea.”

And Hazel Raynsford of Bull Lane in nearby Riseley said: “Our rural villages have already had more than their fair share of development.

“We can already see that villages such as Shinfield, Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood are becoming sprawling urban centres and becoming an extension of Reading itself.”

Council planning officers acknowledge that the new estate ‘would be the largest single addition to the village’. And they say it will harm the countryside by replacing an open field with housing, so is normally against council planning policy.

But national planning policy says that if councils don’t have a ‘five-year housing supply’ – showing locations where new houses can be built – this can tip the balance in favour of housing applications.

Wokingham Borough Council currently can’t show it has a five year supply as a new ‘local plan’ – a vision for development in the borough – has not yet been approved.

The Conservative Party has criticised the Liberal Democrat council of ‘dithering’ over producing a new local plan.

But the Liberal Democrats say they have had to wait for the government to say whether councils can factor overbuilding in previous years into their housing supply for the future. A government update only confirmed this last month.

The planning committee set to vote on the proposal is made up of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors who are not supposed to vote on party lines.