Sale of Tilehurst land sparks clash between charity and residents

Housing estate holders and residents have criticized a charity’s plan to sell green space in Reading for development.

The Tilehurst People’s Local Charity (TPLC) Poverty Alleviation Trust wants to sell land between Kentwood Hill and Armor Hill in Tilehurst to meet the demand for grants.

Members of Keep Kentwood Green have opposed the sale, which could see up to 80 homes built on land they say provides refuge for wildlife in an urban area.

“I’m really worried about the loss of green space in Tilehurst,” said Jo Skidmore, 49, who lives a 10-minute walk from the site.

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“There has been a lot of focus on green spaces since the pandemic and their importance, especially in semi-urban areas.

“I worry about the loss of biodiversity which, with the current climate change situation, is obviously a big thing.”

Jo Skidmore, from Tilehurst, Reading, expressed concern about the loss of biodiversity in the area

She explained that walkers and adjacent Tilehurst housing estates see foxes, badgers, owls and even dear ones in the area.

“Selling this space is going to result in the loss of wildlife corridors and I don’t really know what that’s for.”

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“In my mind, it would be much more valuable to keep the land available for everyone in Tilehurst. You would reach far more people than the small reach of their charity.

TPLC was established to maintain the land among other formerly common areas of Tilehurst in Tilehurst in 1811 and uses rental income or interest earned on profits from previous sales to provide grants.

Reading Chronicle: Frost on the green space between Kentwood Hill and Armor HillFrost on the green space between Kentwood Hill and Armor Hill

These grants make it possible to buy stoves, washing machines, furniture and school uniforms for those who need them, as well as to finance course fees and school trips.

A 49-year-old landlady, who wished to remain anonymous, said she would be happy with a small block of affordable flats on the plot, but said the majority would have to remain for the animals.

“The beauty of being left in the wild is that the wildlife has been allowed to increase and diversify, it’s become a really special habitat.”

A TPLC spokesperson said: “The level of applications exceeds the money coming in and the charity does not have the funds to review many of the applications it receives.

“Faced with ever-increasing needs, the trustees have long wanted to scale up their activities, but can only do so if the association’s finances can be placed on a more sustainable footing.

“The situation grows more pressing every year, but takes on a new urgency following a pandemic that has put many people’s jobs at risk, and with projected fuel price hikes that are expected to push growing numbers of people in poverty”.

They continued: ‘The proceeds from the sale should be invested to provide a solid income – money that will be used to help many other local people for many years to come.’